Twice this week, my day started with an urgent email from a client saying: “My website is down!”
I’ve been through this routine enough times over the years to know not to panic. But it does take a few minutes before I start breathing again.
Trouble can occur at any number of places along the journey from your computer to a website:
- The location that the end user connects to the Internet.
The Internet Service Provider (ISP) may be experiencing a problem.
- The “series of tubes” / nodes between the end user and the web server.
- The website server / hosting provider.
As a business owner, I use several methods to try to ensure the quality of the services I provide.
- Frequent backups of client data and live websites.
- Automated monitoring of live websites to alert me of problems before a client becomes aware of it.
- Follow current security best practices.
When I get the frantic “My website is down” call/email, sometimes the problem is not on my end and there is nothing I can do about it.
Trouble At The Domain Registrar’s End
I don’t manage domain registrations for my clients. They can choose whatever provider they want to. But they can succumb to problems too:
- Hardware / technical failure — Usually corrected within a few hours.
- Distributed Denial Of Service Attack (DDOS) — Means there is a coordinated effort to overwhelm them with web traffic to make their website(s) unaccessible.
One of my clients uses DirectNIC. Not only did the client’s domain name not resolve to the hosted website, but the DirectNIC company website was down as well.
So if you experience a problem with your website, be sure to examine all aspects that could be the cause.
So Why Would Someone Execute A DDOS Attack?
- It could be revenge against the company because they dropped a customer for Terms of Service violation.
- It could be attack against a specific website hosted by the company.
- It could be bored kids trying to cause mischief.
We live in an increasingly insecure world.
What Can You Do?
When the problem is with the domain registrar, there’s really nothing to do but wait. If we try to transfer the domain from them to another provider, that can take several days before web and email settings can be updated.
If the problem was with the web server/hosting, I could simply upload the website and database files somewhere else, then change the domain settings to point to new location. Between 6-24 hours later it would be resolving again to the new host.