When web and domain host GoDaddy went down on September 10, 2012, perhaps millions of websites were affected. According to the Associated Press, GoDaddy hosts more than 5 million websites. Many, if not all, of those sites were affected anywhere for a few minutes to several hours on September 10. If your website or domain name is hosted with GoDaddy, you may have noticed that it was inaccessible or unusable during that time. While GoDaddy had restored service by the end of the business day, the whole event still raises the question: What lessons can website owners learn from this?
Perhaps one of the scariest parts of this episode was the claim of responsibility from the Twitter account AnonymousOwn3r. This person (or group) later clarified that the hacker group Anonymous (who was busy hacking websites of organizations that supported SOPA earlier this year) was not responsible, just the person(s) associated with AnonymousOwn3r.
Despite AnonymousOwn3r’s claim of responsibility, GoDaddy later announced that the outage was not caused at all by a hacker but rather “internal network events that corrupted router data tables.” Regardless of the cause, the effect is still the same. Millions of small businesses who depend on their websites lost them for a few hours. This can be especially devastating for small businesses who operate online exclusively.
If you have a website, no matter if GoDaddy hosts it or not, what can all this mean for you? Well, I’ve thought of a few lessons that I have learned over my years in the business, lessons that GoDaddy’s outage has reinforced to me. I hope these lessons will help you, too.
1. No web host is 100 percent reliable. Anyone who uses a computer knows that there are errors and malfunctions from time to time, either caused by humans or technology. As web hosts are simply computers, the same applies to them.
2. No website is 100 percent safe. No matter how well prepared and up-to-date your website is, it is not completely safe from hackers, spammers, and technological glitches. There are smart, common sense safeguards that can and should be enacted for your site, but even the best aren’t perfect.
3. Paying more doesn’t always mean getting more. If your website handles sensitive information or has a lot of traffic, then paying more for more sophisticated web hosting with proper security measures makes a lot of sense. However, for small, simple websites, it’s probably overkill. Any host, no matter how sophisticated or expensive, can be hacked or have technological “hiccups.” So you really only have to pay for what you need to have.
4. Choose a web host that works for you. While there are no guarantees of perfect, trouble-free service, you can feel comfortable in a web host if you’re happy with the service you get for the price you pay. What uptime does the web host guarantee? How fast do they respond to your help requests? How much downtime does your site actually experience? These are all questions that will help you make the right hosting decision. If you’re not happy with your current host, you can always switch. (See more about switching hosts here.)
GoDaddy’s recent server outage reminds us of these lessons when it comes to our websites. No website is safe from downtime, security breaches, and hackers. Our responsibility is to make sure that we have reasonable measures in place to help protect our sites from hackers and breaches as well as choose the right web host for us.