Central Kentucky WordPress Users

Dec 9 WebHosting Outage

Were you affected / impacted by the web host outage on Friday December 9 and continued well into Saturday December 10?

A number of EIG owned webhosting providers simply went down and did not come back up on line until the next day – included was BlueHost, Host Monster and Host Gator that affected me and there were dozens of other hosting sites that were also down.  This meant that thousands of websites were not working.

In my case one of my main tools to access multiple websites that I manage failed – I had hoped to update the sites I manage to WordPress 4.7 and update the plugins and themes and then check out each site. When I realized that the website manager failed I then attempted to log into some individual sites and very quickly discovered that sites on BlueHost – Host Gator and Host Monster were not allowing me to login.

Thanks to the use of Cloud Flair on almost all of the sites I manage I was able to see each site but could go nowhere beyond the home page.

I had several sites that were critical and I was able to successfully move them temporally to Digital Ocean.

First of all it is very important to have a current backup of the entire site as well as a very current backup of the data on the site.   While there are several good WordPress backup programs out there I use Backup Buddy from iThemes – this is a premium plugin so there are cost involved in owning and using it.  I set up all sites so that a full backup is made once a month and a database back up is done once a week for normal sites – for active or e-commerce site I normally do a at least a daily database backup and in some cases back up more often or I set BackUp Buddy to do live updates which means that anything that changes is immediately backed up.

Next your backups must be stored someplace other than on your web hosting account.  I store all backups on Amazon S-3 there are other good choices available.  If your back up solution is simply storing backups on your hosting site should the hosting site go down like what happened Friday 9 Dec there is no way to get to your hosting and so there is no way to get to your back up.

You need to know and have tested using restore and migrate with your backup solution.  A note here a lot of web hosting providers offer and or do site backups but far too often the restore that they do results in a broken site.  Of course if the hosting is down their backup is also not available.

Something to know is if you have your Domain name registered through your Web Host provider you cannot get to the DNS to redirect your site to another hosting solution.   Often web host providers will offer one free Domain and they also make it easy to buy and create new domains as well as simple to renew your domains every year.  I have been guilty of this with a number of domains that I have and have been working on getting the domains moved.

I was able to test successfully moving critical sites and getting them back up and working during this outage

  • First check to make certain there is both a recent full back up as well as a recent data base back up
  • Have a place where you can “spin up” a website – I am using Digital Ocean and Server Pilot
  • Using ImportBuddy I was able to restore full sites and the database backup to droplets on Digital Ocean – and interesting thing with Digital Ocean is it is possible to set up droplets that are charged by the hour rather than the more common monthly charges
  • Connect the Domain DNS and you end up with a working site in just a few minutes
  • Once the outage is over then just change the DNS back to the original host and restore the database backup made during the time the site was someplace else – in this case Digital Ocean

What I learned is:

  • Do not depend totally on remote managers for multiple sites – have an admin user and password available for every site managed – my remote manager failed to work during this outage
  • Host your site on a different provider than where you have your domains registered – it is a good practice to have your domains registered and managed someplace other than where you host your site
  • Do not use the email function where you have you site hosted – if the host goes down you also lose your email – (my email is on my main hosting site – so I had no email – so I was NOT receiving site down and problem emails from the sites I manage) – there are email solutions other than where you host your website.
  • Set up the website monitoring emails to something other than your ordinary email – I had some sites sending their site information to a g-mail account which worked well
  • Don’t panic and have alternates available which you have tested and know how to use
  • Know how to lookup if your site or site provider is down such as Down for Everyone or Is It Down or Down Right now