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Website going down – Why did it happen?

When your website goes down you need to spring into action. Your initial reaction will be one of the disbelief but there are in actual fact a number of reasons it could have happened. Dos attacks are becoming more popular on popular sites, although I hope that never happens to you. The server could have malfunctioned. Or else the programming could have been at fault. Alternatively, it could be one of many other items causing it.

The first and easiest thing to do is to immediately check the website yourself and make sure is it really down.  It’s a good idea to use your cell phone to do this as this is a separate way of logging in rather than your broadband connection. If you don’t get any joy, visit a large website that seldom has problems and check it’s not a major internet problem. If the website shows for you then it is likely that the person reporting the problem might have a problem with their connection.

The next thing is to contact the server. Here you can ascertain if the server is down. If it’s the server, there’s not much you can do until they fix it or transfer you to one of the backup servers.

There are a couple of places where you can make sure it’s not just an area problem, and that it is out for everyone.  Try logging on to Down for everyone or to Whereisitup. You can insert the URL and check on either of these sites, and it will tell you if it is available or not.

Once you have ascertained that none of these is the problem you need to tackle the actual site. Using your login information ascertain if it is programming error or if there is a DNS problem. If the server has crashed you probably would not be able to log in and your hosting company would have known about it. The most likely then would be a misconfig so check the error log in the Apache area for indications of what it might be. Check that the server with a ping

C:\> ping www.travell-er.com

This should ping back if the server is working. If there is a domain problem, it should reflect back that it’s an unknown host. If you get the right domain number back you are ok.

Now is the time to log into your cPanel on the web host. If you manage to log in and its working you will usually be able to check your linux server with the ssh command. You will get the –l command after which you need to insert your administrative user name, peter@whatever:~$ ssh -l admin www.travell-er.com. If there is no problem you should be able to log in. At this stage, I would make sure that the server is working by checking with the hosting company. They are the most likely people who will be able to help you, unless your website has been taken out by the virus in which case you will need to clean it out and reinstall from your backup files. This is usually the quickest way to solve the problem.

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