It happens to every website. And every website owner can hardly breathe until it’s resolved. The site is down. You don’t know whether it’s been hacked, or you forgot to renew something, or if the host is just having a bad day. Here are a few tips on what you can do if your website goes offline that will get you up and running as quickly as possible.
If you can’t access your site, wait 30 minutes and try again. You’d be amazed at how often this fixes the problem. Host servers become inaccessible momentarily for a variety of reasons, most of which are for your benefit, like:
- Fighting a hack attack
- Routine backups
- Routine maintenance
Hosts usually don’t tell you they are doing these things via email or such because it usually causes only 10-15 minutes of down time. You know that 99.99% uptime guarantee? Well, that still leaves them about a week out of every year to be down.
And, many hosts have a run-time blog where you can check your server’s status. Now, if you go there, don’t freak out when you see a list of what’s down for maintenance, and how often. Logs like that are created all day, every day, by every hosting company in the world.
So, don’t panic. Chill for a while, and try again later.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
If your site has been down for over an hour, the very fist call should be to your hosting company, not to your site designer, unless you pay them to host your site.
This is just one of the reasons why you want to purchase your hosting directly. If there is a problem, a reseller can’t do a thing about it directly. They can only make the same call you could make yourself. And, let’s hope they are not on vacation at the time.
Make a Site Info Doc
If you don’t know how to contact your host, find out now while there are no problems.
Each client who hired me to set up their site has a full Site Info document that gives them every piece of data about their site and their accounts, including login and contact information.
If you don’t have one, make one. Save it on your computer, on your backup, and print it out. Keep it in a safe place that you can find later.
Download the Site Information Blank that I use for my clients.
It’s in a Word .doc file format.
Check Your Domain
If there are no problems with your hosting, check your domain. It may be inactive or having problems pointing to the right place. Hopefully your domain registrar is your hosting company and you can check both with one call. Many hosts offer one free domain with even their smallest hosting packages.
If you have let your domain name renewal slip, you’ll likely find it on hold. Domain registrars usually hold a domain so that no one else can get it for six months. That allows the original owner time to renew.
This is another reason why you want to purchase your domain name directly. You’ll have all of the account info you need to square out the problem easily yourself.
If all is well with your hosting and domain, check your site. Perhaps it has some bad code or a plugin is acting up.
To check the code, run it through the WC3 Code Validation Service. http://validator.w3.org/ It’s free and takes a split second. Simply enter the URL to your site and click the Check button.
It will list the exact error that it finds, including any plugins that don’t pass muster.
If the problem persists, check for any plugins that have an Update notice and update them. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, begin deactivating plugins one at a time, and then recheck the site status between each one.
Check for Malware
Sites get infected just like computers do. Many hosts are happy to scan your site for you. They don’t want a virus on their server any more than you do.
If they can’t or won’t do it, you can download all of your site files via an FTP program and scan them using your own computer’s malware scan software.
The main files you want to absolutely scrutinize are:
- and the wp-content folder, which has your theme and plugins
Unfortunately, some free WordPress themes and plugins come pre-loaded with malware. The ones listed on the official WordPress directory are pretty well screened and okay. But, be very suspicious of any that are not listed in that directory.
If downloading your files is not an option and/or you don’t have adequate scanning software, you’ll want get a geek at that point.
Have I Been Hacked?
If you’ve checked all of the above and can find no problems, you’ll want to hire a geek to check your core database files and scour your code for suspicious lines.
Now, geeks aren’t cheap for this service, so do what you can on your own by taking the steps outlined above first.
Be Smart, Be Safe, Backup
Backup your site often. If something happens to your database or the files with your theme and plugins, you’ll turn every shade of the rainbow sick if you don’t have a backup. There are just too many automated plugins for this task for you to have any excuse not to do it. Some are free, some cost a little money. How much is your site, and the time to restore it, worth? The cost of a premium plugin won’t seem like much compared to that.
What Else You Need to Know
If you’re new to site ownership, or thinking of getting a site, get my free ebook, What Every Site Owner Should Know. It is my gift to you for subscribing to BlogAid News. Don’t worry, I don’t send constant sales pitches. Just news and info that actually helps you be a confident and successful site owner.