Timeline: What to Do When Your Blog Goes Down

35 amazing comments

blog downtimeWhen your website or blog goes down it can be pretty frustrating while also having consequences over the short and long term. Yuck.

And while it is not the end of the world, it can be a little bit scary if you rely on your blog for an income.

When a site goes offline there is a sequence of events that take place and, depending on how you manage them, annoying consequences that follow.

Let’s take a very basic look at those events and what to do in that kind of situation so that you can hit the ground running.

A general timeline of a crashed blog

Here is a quick example timeline of what can happen when a website or blog goes down, and what you might want to be doing at each stage of the process. This could vary a lot depending on your situation, so I’ll try to keep it as general as possible.

1. Notification

The first thing is usually that someone lets you know that your blog is down. This might happen on Twitter or you might get an email from a reader who was trying to access the site. If you run a very professional setup you might even get a notification from your server or a monitoring service like Sucuri.

What to do here:
At this stage you’ll want to get to a computer so you can begin researching what’s happening. Try not to panic.

2. Identification

The next step is that you will need to try and figure out whether your site is actually down and, if it is, what is causing the problem. For example, is it a server issue, a hack of some kind, an issue with a plugin, etc.?

What to do here:
The first step is to check Down For Everyone to see if it’s just you. Then the next step is to email or call your web host and notify them of the problem. Your support staff is always the first point of call.

3. Resolution/Non-resolution

At this stage your problem will either be resolved as being some simple error or temporary server downtime. If not you will need to move on to the next stage.

What to do here:
If your problem was resolved you can move on the section about prevention and backups, if your problem wasn’t resolved you’ll need to investigate further.

4. Further investigation

Sometimes your web host will not be able to resolve the issue if it is a more specialized problem that involves your WordPress theme, plugins, or some malware that is present on your blog. Often they will be able to identify the issue but not want to attempt to repair it due to the possibility of making it worse.

What to do here:
Here you want to engage a systems admin expert or a service like Sucuri that can look deeper into the issue. This will generally involve giving them access to your server so it’s best to go with a reputable person/company. Ask for a report and quote.

5. Outside effects become noticeable

Sometime around this stage you will probably start to notice some effects of the downtime. For example, you will see a notification in Google search or Webmaster Tools that there is a security threat on your site, or you’ll start to notice your Google rankings changing/dropping in response to the server no longer being reachable. Keep an eye on your important backlinks as well. If you throw a 404 error for too long there’s a chance that the linking site will change to someone else.

What to do here:
At this point you might want to publicly acknowledge that there is an issue by posting to your social media accounts and advising readers what is happening and how they can help. Here’s a good example of how to do it.

6. Start researching alternatives

Unfortunately, if your issue is not resolved quickly it might mean that a more complicated solution is necessary. For example, you might need to migrate your domain name and/or website to a new host due to some issue with the current one.

What to do here:
Start looking around Google for people who have had similar problems to this and seeing what pith advice they have. Start emailing other providers to find out about the migration process should that be necessary. Look for staff who might be able to help you re-build any damaged or broken bits.

7. Final resolution

Some point in here the damn thing will be fixed and you’ll wonder why you got into Internet business in the first place. You’ll also experience some pretty great relief.

What to do here:
You can do this but also move on to the next step.

8. Put in place future protections and backups

If you didn’t have them in place initially, an event like this will really motivate you to start thinking about how to prevent future incidents. This involves better server set ups, security protocols, backups, monitoring, etc.

What to do here:
Make regular backups. My Blog Tyrant server makes a full server back up every two days, and once a week sends a full copy to a completely separate server as a secondary backup. Harden your website’s security using measures like these. Talk to your server staff about improvements that can be made or pay an independent expert for an audit.

Has your blog ever crashed?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if your blog has ever crashed and how you dealt with the situation. What steps did you take and how effective were they? What tips or steps would you say should absolutely be added to the article above? Please leave a message below.

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35 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • Laura Routh

    Yes, I’ve had two issues that lasted longer than usual. One in particular lasted 12 hours. In both cases it was a hosting problem, and I had to simply wait it out. Rest assured, my website wasn’t the only one down. I called as soon as I became aware of the problem. I also continued checking the hosting company’s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates. I haven’t made any income from my website, yet. So for me, it was more of an inconvenience. I do back up my site daily, and my hosting company walked me through the process of restoring my site from the backup.

    Thank you for this post, Ramsay. I thought about changing hosting companies, but until I have more traffic, it just doesn’t seem worth it. Besides, this could happen with any hosting plan, right? I did some research, and until you’re willing to fork out extra money, these sorts of incidents are more common. The 12 hour down time was a rare occurrence, though.


    1. Ramsay

      Was that the big outage at Endurance (BlueHost, JustHost, etc.) the other month?


      1. Laura Routh

        Bluehost – and I believe it was in Decamber of 2016 because people were worried about losing money from holiday shoppers. I followed the comment thread on Facebook. But I think there was a more recent one, too, but it didn’t last as long. I was pleased with technical support, though.


        1. Ramsay

          My contact at BH has said they have made huge improvements on the back of those incidents. I think in support alone they have like 80 new staff.


          1. Laura Routh

            I believe it. Blue Host has been so helpful every time there’s been an issue. I’m glad to hear the news, Ramsay. Ah, and it’s December, not Decamber. And to think I have a blog. 🙂 But maybe we should add Decamber to the calendar. We could make up our own holidays.


    2. wayno

      I have had the same problem over the years and become an expert at moving my wordpress sites. I would say it is vital to change particularly if the hosting company turns to crap. I have a company that used to offer incredible support. But they now offer the exact opposite and blame it on dns etc. When I changed everything worked perfectly. You need to keep this in mind.


      1. Ramsay

        That sounds awful. Have you found someone good yet?


  • Ai

    Thanks, Ramsay – another article that’s helpful and to the point! (Do you have a process for keeping them so succinct?)

    My blog hasn’t crashed (well, it hasn’t even been published yet), but I do make daily and weekly backups. I imagine space is going to be an issue over time.

    I have a request: can you give us some advice on how to write under a pen-name (successfully and hopefully without too much pain)? I figure you have a lot of experience in the matter if you sold a whole bunch of blogs under pen-names in the past (although I realize you might have different rules in Australia compared to the US).

    Thanks a bunch!


    1. Ramsay

      A lot of people use pen names for the added layer of security that it provides – some people don’t want their real names out there, which is understandable. My favorite example is James from Men with Pens and I highly recommend you Google her story and tips.


  • Sue Dunlevie

    Do you have ESP? My blog crashed on Thursday. Thank goodness for backups and the great tech team at WP Radius.

    Thanks for the great info, Ramsay.
    Sue


    1. Anthony Ciulla

      Thank you for the info. I go one question how do I back up my blog? Sounds silly but I am new to this. I look forward to reading and learning from you again thank you.

      Anthony


      1. Ramsay

        Hi Anthony. All your comments went to the spam folder, just FYI.

        You can backup a blog from the server side, or using a plugin in WordPress. The best solution depends a lot on your host, theme, etc. so it’s often best to get advice from a developer or your hosting company.


    2. Matt

      I remember checking your blog (for any new posts) that day – wondering what happened. Glad you got it all sorted out.

      I’ve been hosting websites for nearly 20 years, so I’ve had websites go down several times. What I do depends on the situation. If it doesn’t last more than an hour or two, or I feel it was an honest technical blimp, I let it go.

      If it ends up being an all day affair or the problem seems a bit shady, I’ll start looking for a new host.


      1. Sue Dunlevie

        It was mostly my fault, not WP Engine (who I love). Long story but no blame going out. Just was a mini-issue and I didn’t even get cranked up about it!


        1. Ramsay

          Just saw this reply, that sounds normal and they are a great company.


    3. Ramsay

      How much downtime did you have? Was it isolated to your site?


  • Stephen Walker

    Hi Ramsay,

    You are so right, when your blog crashes it can be a nightmare.

    I have started using BlogVault which I find invaluable. It provides a full daily backup and easy restore.

    The point you make about notification is extremely pertinent as even with a daily backup, a backup is no good unless you know about the failure in a timely manner.


    1. Ramsay

      Absolutely. Thank you for sharing. That seems like a good solution. Have you ever had to use the restore function?


  • Roland

    First thing would be to contact my webmaster wizzard so I can go to bed peacefully. I have a great hosting provider already and my site is fully https. Backups are a must both on server and privately. Hopefully it never happens.


    1. Ramsay

      Totally agree.


  • Ahmad Imran

    Ramsay, I am with Siteground and their service is normally rock solid. The minute downtimes are due to my own theme and plugin type issues which they help to resolve as well.

    Double backup is a must. I do it with the host and also with vaultpress.

    Cheers, nice article, something that can happen with anyone.


    1. Ramsay

      Do you know what plugin caused you to have downtime?


      1. Ahmad Imran

        WP super cache, W3 Total, Wordfence, Sucuri, BPS and Rocket Cache.

        For some reason I always have issues with security and cache related plugins. So I settled for WP Fastest Cache for cache and cloudflare for security.


        1. Ramsay

          Yeah, caching will do that sometimes. It’s hard to get right.


  • Justin Bilyj

    Great timeline Ramsay. I think there should be just one more tip added on to this list, and it’s the tip given to use by all our parents – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Tithe your time and put it towards a back up idea/passion/niche while you are earning an income on your current site.


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah, you are very right. Something I need to apply to my business a lot more this year.


  • Tania

    Hey this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually
    code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get advice from someone with
    experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!


    1. Ramsay

      You can do both with WordPress!


  • Yeezy

    The minute downtimes are due to my own theme and plugin type issues which they help to resolve as well.


  • Creative Content

    Hello..
    I am an experienced copywriter and that information will definitely boost my sales and rankings… My blog gone down every week before a while, but your incredible post helped me a lot.

    Thank you!


    1. Ramsay

      Glad to hear.


  • Biplab Acharjee

    Hello Ramsay! Thanks for this helpful and informative post. I have learn how to deal with, when blog goes down. Can you please give me a suggestion or any guide to remove low quality back links and My blog is going down in organic visitors. How to get back my early position in SERP?
    Thanks !


    1. Ramsay

      Check out moz.com for that. They have some good guides.


  • Sandy

    I lost my site for three months when I was just starting out … fortunately, I work as a freelancer, and it was a hobby blog, so it wasn’t a big deal!


    1. Ramsay

      What happened?!


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