Big Website Outages: What It Means to You

What’s up with being down?

If you’re a Google, Microsoft and Amazon user, you may recently have had a feeling that the sky was falling, or at least that there was a black cloud over your head. Why?

On Friday, Google services went down.

On Saturday, Microsoft’s Outlook.com service went down.

On Monday, Amazon.com went down.

That’s a lot of high-profile website outages. But the impact of the downtime was not evenly felt.

Google’s outage was amazingly brief: somewhere between 2 – 5 minutes. But the impact was huge. It was not just Google search that was down. Not just Gmail. But all Google services. So many people use these Google services that it was estimated that overall Internet traffic dropped 40% during those few minutes of downtime.

Microsoft’s outage was confined to a few services – Outlook.com, SkyDrive and Contacts – so it affected a fraction of the people impacted by the Google outage. But it lasted for days, not minutes. So if you used Outlook.com for your email, it was a seriously bad outage.

Amazon’s outage was for their main Amazon.com website for U.S. and Canadian customers (not related sites like Zappos.com or other country-specific versions of the Amazon site). Reports about the length of the downtime vary from about 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Not too long, but they may have lost some business as frustrated shoppers turned to other online retailers. And because Amazon.com averages $117,882 in sales every minute, a 40 minute outage could mean $4.72 million in lost sales (of course customers may simply have come back and purchased later).

Google’s brief outage also had real costs. The company is said to make about $108,000 per minute. So their 5-minutes of downtime would mean $545,000 in lost revenue.

So, what does all this mean? High-profile outages often lead to speculation about cyberattacks by individual hackers, hacker groups or even Chinese government hackers. But it doesn’t appear that hackers were behind either of this past week’s outages.

In all likelihood it’s just a high-profile coincidence. But it can be a meaningful coincidence and an important reminder.

To businesses large and small, it should be a reminder that their systems are vulnerable – and not just to headline-grabbing natural disasters. The reality is that it’s not whether your servers will go down (due to natural disasters, human error, equipment failure or other causes) but when. And when it happens, how fast and how well can you recover, and what will the impact to your business be?  A prolonged outage or one that causes data loss can be catastrophic for many businesses.

cloud disaster recovery (DR) for business continuitySo having a business continuity plan and services such as Cloud Server Backup and Cloud Disaster Recovery are essential to mitigate these very real and very big risks to your business.

And for all our high-speed and dial-up Internet access customers, these outages can be a reminder not to assume your Internet connection is down just because you can’t get to Google.com or Amazon.com.

If you can’t get to the one site you’re trying to visit, it’s always best to test your connection by trying to go to several different, unrelated sites like www.earthlink.net, www.npr.org, www.whitehouse.gov, etc. You may find there’s no problem with your connection. Just a website outage.

Website Statistics – The Numbers Say You Need to Have a Website

Sometimes the numbers just don’t add up. Like these website statistics…

I recently read that 97% of Internet users in the U.S. now go online to shop for local goods and services. That’s virtually everybody.

Yet by most accounts (there are slightly different numbers from survey to survey) 50% or more of U.S. businesses still do not have a website.

You’d expect those numbers to align much closer, wouldn’t you?

If 97% of people are going online when they want to buy, wouldn’t closer to 97% of businesses be there to sell to them? But they’re not. It’s not even close.

And it’s not because people are only looking for the big national brands or top online retailers: that 97% is for people looking to buy local goods and services, the very customers that small businesses should be most trying to reach. Yet about half of all companies are giving up that potential business to their competitors by not having a website. Go figure?

It’s also not because these people would be hard to reach: The same survey reported that 90% of these shoppers use search engines to find their local goods and services. All you’d need to reach them is a simple business website that has been set up properly so search engines can find it.

EarthLink Web Hosting provides all subscribers a simple, template-based website builder that makes it quick and easy for anyone to build a business website – with absolutely no experience necessary. (There are also options to have a professional website designer take care of everything for you.)

Our web hosting services also include easy-to-use tools to help businesses reach out to their customers, including search engine optimization (SEO) tools to help small businesses get their website in front of the 90% of shoppers using search engines for local goods and services.

According to the numbers, getting online works: Businesses using the web are expected to grow 40% faster and almost twice as likely to create jobs.

So, if you’re still waiting…what are you waiting for? A great deal? Then how about this:

Right now, the 50% of you without a business website can get 50% off any of our do-it-yourself web hosting and ecommerce hosting plans. Plus, a free domain name for 1 year.

Stop 3 Common URL-related Issues with EarthLink Web Hosting

urlHaving a website to promote your business is necessary nowadays, but there are small annoyances that come along with having a web presence that you’d rather not deal with. EarthLink Web Hosting is here to help you eliminate three of the most common:

Unwanted Communication
Whenever a domain name is registered, the personal information (name, address, email address) of the buyer is displayed publicly. Anyone wanting to look up a URL can see this information. But EarthLink offers private registration that hides your personal information,, which helps protect you from unwanted communications and spam!

Domain Guard
If you own a domain, chances are you’re going to spend money making sure people remember the web address in the hopes they’ll visit.  Sadly, often other businesses can register similar domain names (either to try and swipe potential business, or because they’re not aware of your site existing), and this can be confusing to your current and prospective customers.  But EarthLink Web Hosting offers “Domain Guard,” which alerts you when a domain name similar to yours is registered so you can respond to protect your trademarks, copyrights, and branding efforts!

Domain Monitor
Did you have to register a “.biz” instead of a “.com” or settle in some other way because the domain you wanted was already purchased, but not being used?  EarthLink’s Domain Monitor tells you when an existing domain name becomes available so you can get the URL you really want!

Restoring Your Website

EarthLink Web Hosting is easy to use. And as we’ve written about before, our free EasySiteWizard Pro tool is a fast and simple way to build a website, even if you have absolutely no technical experience and know nothing about building a website.web hosting - website file restore complete

But, as with any web hosting service, it is also possible to make mistakes when you’re working on your website.

Sometimes the mistakes are serious: you accidentally deleted important files or pages, or you inadvertently wrote over some content you needed to save. (This is especially likely if you are working on your website manually and uploading files via FTP rather than using the EasySiteWizard Pro tool.)

That’s why we strongly recommend that you alwayshave a local backup (i.e., on your computer) of your site and all its content.

Here are the backup strategies we recommend to help you safeguard your essential website files.

  1. Use your favorite FTP client to download a complete backup of all your website’s content. The File Manager Pro tool (in the Manage Site section of your Web Hosting Control Center) can be used to download individual files to y our computer, but not whole directories or multiple files.
  2. Keep your website backup stored locally on your work or home computer, or at an off-site storage location.
  3. Create a backup schedule and keep backing up your website regularly according to your schedule (how often you should backup varies depending on how often you make changes to your website). Rapidly changing data should be backed up more frequently.

If you’ve kept up on your local website backups and you make a mistake, the fix is as simple as FTPing the files you need from your computer back to your website.

Using the File Restore Tool

If you don’t have a backup, all may not be lost. Your EarthLink Web Hosting Control Center has an easy-to-use File Restore tool that can help you restore your website content from pre-defined time periods (6 hours ago, 24 hours ago, 48 hours ago, etc.).

Please note: it is not possible to ensure that all your files will be recoverable. And you should also be aware that, if you are using File Restore to restore your website, it will overwrite existing files if they have the same filenames as the restored content.

Here’s how to use File Restore:

  1. Sign into your Web Hosting Control Center at with your EarthLink Web Hosting domain name, username, and password.
  2. On the Manage Site tab, click the File Restore button.website file restore tool in web hosting control center
  3. At the bottom of the page, use the drop-down menu to select a time-based backup of your site that you think will have the file you wish to restore (your most recent choice may be from a few minutes to 6 hours ago).
  4. Click the Next button.
  5. From the list on the left, select the file that you want to restore and click on the gray dot (the dot will turn green when the file is selected). You can repeat this process for other files you wish to restore.
  6. Click the Restore button.
  7. You’ll see a message letting you know that you are restoring a file and warning you about overwriting other files. Click the Next button to continue restoring your files.
  8. You’ll see a final confirmation (big green checkmark) that your file restore is complete and a list of files restored. At this point, you can click a link to view your File Restore history or to go back and restore additional files.

We hope you never need it, but it’s good to know File Restore is there to back you up.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get started backing up your website.