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Website Crashing? 5 Things to Do Now

GoDaddy went down earlier this week, taking many small businesses' sites with it. Here's what to do if you're ever in those shoes.

If you didn't experience problems directly, you've no doubt heard already that GoDaddy went down on Monday, taking the essential Web presence of many small businesses with it. That's terrible news for those affected and also for GoDaddy, which will certainly lose customers. But perhaps some good can be wrung from the incident.

In light of the disruption, it's a good time for entrepreneurs to get up to speed on what to do if they're ever in the shoes of GoDaddy users. What's the right response when your own site goes down? Experts offer these tips.

Check: Is It Really Down?

"Press Shift + Refresh to make sure you're not seeing a cached version (hold down Shift while reloading or refreshing the page)," suggests Paul Tero, a server administrator who wrote up his advice for IT teams responding to server crashes for Smashing Magazine. "If the website displays fine, then the problem is probably related to your client's computer or broadband connection. If it fails, then visit a robust website, such as google.com or bbc.co.uk. If they fail, too, then there is at least an issue with your own broadband connection (or your broadband company's DNS servers)…. Check the website on your mobile phone or phone a friend. To be doubly sure, ask your friend to check." 

Communicate Aggressively 

"If you have a general email list, take time to craft a simple and brief notice to inform customers, vendors, and necessary third parties of the outage," suggests YFS Magazine in a post.

But soothing jittery customers shouldn't just amount to a single missive. Your response on social media is key, too. "Turn to your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest feeds to connect with customers," recommends the post, "and let them know how to contact and do business with you while your site is down...You might also consider reaching out to established customers over...text message or by phone."

Hassle Your Hosting Provider 

GoDaddy's problems were in-house and technical, but an outage isn't always about a calamity at the hosting provider. Call yours right away to get the goods on what's going on, suggests the blog of server-monitoring services company Alertra.

"It may be as simple as your hosting has expired and your provider has stopped their service," advises the post. "A pretty easy one to resolve. It could be that a traffic spike has caused your site to fall down; this is common when a website suddenly receives an unexpected boost to traffic….And of course, it's possible your hosting company is having technical difficulties themselves. Visit their website or get in touch directly to confirm this suspicion."

Obviously, also be sure to get an estimate of when the problem should be resolved.

Push Pause on Online Advertising

"If you utilize online advertising to drive traffic to your site (i.e., display advertising, pay-per-click advertising, etc.), pause the campaign as soon as possible," advises YFS. "There's nothing worse than paying for a campaign that is guaranteed 'not to deliver' results."

Consider Changing Hosts

After an outage is a natural time to consider whether it might be time to move your site, especially if the process of resolving the issue ends up being lengthy. "It can be a complicated process," but it may be worth it, Entrepreneur says, though be warned: "If you elect to migrate to a new domain host, remember, it's not just your website that has to change. It your Web-based services as well. That means email, transaction servers, sales tools, and analytics systems may have to be updated."

Over on Business2Community, Mark Sandall of Cyber World Internet Services offers some questions to ask to evaluate whether a Web host is a good fit for your business:

  • Are they easy to get ahold of?
  • Do they give you the services that you need?
  • Do they educate you on the process of setting up a website?

Are there any other steps business owners need to take when their site goes down?

 

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IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Sep 13, 2012

JESSICA STILLMAN

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in Cyprus with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.




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