Top 10 Reasons Your Site Isn’t Working

Are you wondering to yourself, why is it that my web site isn’t working? Why is my web site down? Is my web site down or is it me? These are questions I hear in the hosting industry day after day, year after year. I have heard them so many times, and seen so many reasons for the problems in question I have been able to compile a list of the top ten reasons why your web site is not working.

So that, my hosting homies, is the topic of today’s show.

Download the Web Hosting Show, Episode 193!
Running Time: 10 minutes | File Size: 4.67 MB


This week on the podcast we will be covering the top ten reasons why your web site is not working. So without further interruption, let us take a dive into these troubling web site problems.

10. The Tubes Are Broken – It was former senator Ted Stevens who famously said, “the Internet is a series of tubes”. With that in mind, when the tubes are broken, it can cause a massive web site problem.

When you navigate to your web site, your request bounce from this point, to that point, to that point over there until you reach the server your web site is hosted at. Now what if one of the points is having problems? Well then your request gets stuck, and you can’t see your site.

One way to see if this is the issue is to do a trace route to your domain. With each line, you see a different hop your request took to get to the server. If it looks likes stopped, then your, “big truck” as Ted Stevens would call it has come to a halt.

9. Server is Down, Please Try Again! – Sometimes stuff happens on a server, causing it to go bonkers, stops it from serving your web site and makes it think it is a toaster. Any server at any web host can (and probably will) go down for any number of reasons, the trick is to find the one that has done so the least amount of times.

Think of a server as MacGyver on a busy day. Sometimes it gets it’s requests out of order, breaks down, and needs a few fixes here and there to keep it running better, faster, and for a little longer.

8. What, I Need Hosting Too? – It might be a rare occurrence in the web hosting world, but sometimes it happens. You forgot to purchase a domain name with your hosting, or you forgot to purchase a web hosting account with your domain name.

For people new to the web hosting world, they often think, I want a web site, so I am buying one thing, “the ability to have a web site”. Why would this be separated into two major things? Well, it is – so remember to tell people they need both!

7. Somebody is Abusing my Poor Little Server! – If you think of a shared web hosting server, as a community that you live in, and all the other sites hosted there are your neighbors, then it is easier to understand the idea of server resource abuse. Think of the annoying neighbor that keeps playing his music so load, everybody else in the community can’t get any work done.

This can happen in the Online world too.

Say for example, another web site hosted on the same server that your site is hosted on is using up too much of the server’s CPU. Due to this problem, your web site performance has started to slow down or come to a halt.

6. YOU Are the one Abusing That Little Server! – When somebody is found to be abusing a server (for example, by using too many server resources) and that person is you, that too can bring your web site down.

No mater if it is caused by a sudden burst in traffic, or a crazy script that is badly configured – you are using too many resources, and will be shut down so your neighbors (who are playing by the rules) can go back to seeing their web sites again.

5. Using Too Many Server Resources – Now number seven through six are pretty similar, and all mainly have to do with abuse to the server. One major thing you have to watch out for (and get ready to upgrade because of it) is the use of too many server resources.

When you are hosted on a shared server with 100 to 300 other customers, one guy can’t get away with using too large of a percentage of RAM or CPU power. What about disk space and bandwidth? Those can be abused too, but since those two are much cheaper these days – the new thing to really watch out for when it comes to server abuse is the amount of the server’s RAM and CPU you are hording for your own site.

4. You Got DDoS’ed – When a DDoS happens, you can say goodbye to your web site until your web host figures where the attack is coming from, and filters it out.

What is a DDoS?

DDoS stands for distributed denial of service attack and occurs when multiple systems flood the bandwidth or resources of a targeted system or systems. These systems are compromised by attackers using a variety of methods.

3. Disturbing (or Rule Breaking) Content – Every web host out there has a series of rules (often found in the terms of service or acceptable use policy) summing up what you can and can not host there. Some of it is common sense, (like anything that is against the law), however others might deserve checking into at least.

For example, some web hosts allow “adult” content on shared servers, and others require you to upgrade to a virtual private server or better. Also scripts that are known to cause high server usage, like many of the YouTube-clone scripts out there, might also get you in trouble with the rules.

2. Web Site was Hacked – Always make sure you are using the latest version of any script or plugin you install on your web hosting account. Getting your web site hacked is a major problem that is never much fun to deal with. Also, check out folder and file permissions (to make sure files are at least 644 and folder are set to no higher than 755).

Now I could probably do an entire second show on web site security, but one more tip I think is worth mentioning is don’t install a script, say you never used it again, and that is your excuse for not updating it and creating a big hole for any hacker out there to use to get into your web hosting account.

1. PEBKAC – For those of you not in the web hosting support world, the acronym PEBKAC might leave you a little confused. PEBKAC stands for “Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair”. It is nothing to be ashamed of, sometimes a user just configures things incorrectly.

Sometimes they forget to set their domain name to the right name servers. Sometimes they upload their web site, but all the file paths are pointing to locations on the PC. The thing to remember is don’t be ashamed to ask for help, because in this wild and wacky world of web hosting, we are all here to help learn from and teach each other.

I hope you enjoyed this look into the top ten reasons why your web site isn’t working today. If you have any other common errors I might have missed, be sure to leave a comment and share it with the rest of the Web Hosting Show listening audience.