What Is a Correct Definition of “99.9% Uptime”?

Posted by Web Hosting Experter in Articles

99.9% Hosting Uptime

Uptime guarantees are all too common in the world of web hosting, as web hosts believe these promises are a great way to display their confidence in the quality of the hosting service they provide. Although having a reliable web host that is able to provide continual access to high-quality servers is certainly optimal, many hosts fail to fully inform prospective clients about the true definition of 99.9% uptime.

Uptime is defined as any time that the server is able to function normally so that websites can stay online. Any time a server is unable to function normally, and sites are subsequently taken off-line, is referred to as downtime. In general, cheaper web hosts that have a lot of customers that are more prone to downtime than established web hosts that offer advanced hosting services such as dedicated hosting, VPS hosting, and co-location. Furthermore, different types of hosting plans are more susceptible to downtime regardless of the web host, such as shared hosting or free hosting.

What Exactly Is 99.9% Uptime?

The exact definition of a of 99.9% uptime varies depending on the period of time in which the guarantee lasts. For example, a web host could promise that a customer’s site will remain online 99.9% of each month, or 99.9% of each year. In some cases the uptime guarantee may even apply to the entire duration of the hosting plan, which can be as long as three to five years or more.

If a web host promise 99.9% uptime on a yearly basis, that would mean that approximately one and a half days of downtime would be excusable within the terms of their 99.9% uptime guarantee. However, if a web host promises a 99.9% uptime guarantee on a monthly basis, this would mean that only about two and a half hours would be excusable within the uptime guarantee. Some hosts even go so far as to promise a 99.999% uptime guarantee, which if applied on a yearly basis would actually have a significant impact on how much downtime would be permissible.

How Can You Dispute Inconsistent Uptime?

If you’ve been noticing that your website is regularly unavailable or pages load slowly, there may be performance problems with the servers provided by your web host. Even if your host does not provide a 99.9% uptime guarantee, it is still inexcusable for them to provide a service that is not capable of functioning optimally most of the time. Frequent occurrences or extended periods of downtime should be reported immediately, and you should always try to inquire about the cause of the downtime. In some cases, particularly with shared hosting plans, the host may purposefully shut down the server in order to perform server maintenance, however this is less common with dedicated servers as they require maintenance on a less frequent basis.

What Happens If a Web Host Is Unable to Live up to Their 99.9% Uptime Guarantee?

The compensation that will be offered by a web host after breaking their own 99.9% uptime guarantee will vary depending on the terms and condition of the hosting plan. In some cases, the host will simply give you a free month’s service, while in other cases they may give you the choice to have your payments fully refunded. Then there are other web hosts that will only allow you to opt out of your hosting contract in the event of a 99.9% uptime guarantee default. Thus, it is important to thoroughly review the fine print of any hosting service before signing up.

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