Uptime
Uptime Uptime is the period of time when a site performs well.

Uptime corresponds to the time when a site is accessible from the Internet. The opposite term - downtime - shows for how long a site has not been working during specified period of time. Usually uptime is measured in percents, and for period of time is choosen year. Percents over the year could be easily transformed into time values. Some typical values of uptime and corresponding period of unavailability during the year are shown here:

90% - 876 hours

99% - 87 hours, 36 minutes

99.9% - 8 hours, 45 minutes, 36 seconds

99.99% - 52 minutes, 34 seconds

So high uptime is really important. Even if it seems that 99% is pretty high value - it corresponds to several days of failure. If that happens in a row, many clients can be lost. Uptime value is usually guaranteed by web hosting, where the site is hosted. Website Monitoring may help you to increase the uptime and check if the value, declared by the hosting company, is real.

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  • CM.Glossary.Downtime
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Very useful for my company's website verification whether it's up or down and be notified immediately about it, even if using a free account!

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Domains: do they have afterlife?

Every year, millions of domain names are lost. What happens after domain expires? How long will your domain wait for you before someone grabs it? And how to omit this?  

Monitor your domains for any changes. You can keep an eye on the state of available domains which you like, but don’t forget your own ones too. There is a wide variety of services, like HostTracker, which provide an easy, efficient way to track any changes of domain’s state.

Domains: do they have afterlife?

Everyone may face the problem of losing the domain name. Every year, millions of domain names are lost. Mostly, it happens unintentionally, the owners miss the renewal notices for various reasons and they do not figure out that they are in the process of losing their prized domain until it is too late! In this article you will get to know about the most known examples of domain expirations. Moreover, we will see that big companies, such as Microsoft, Foursquare, Yatra, are also insecure to "the drop game". Additionally, you will find out how to keep the domain name if you forget to pay for domain renewal. How long will your domain wait for you before someone grabs it? And how to omit this using HostTracker's Domain expiration and Certificate expiration functions?

How Microsoft lost hotmail.co.uk

One of the most striking examples of dropping the domain name ocured in 2003 due to what is called the collective negligence. In spite of the fact, that people were trying to check up on what was happening and somehow to deal with the problem, Microsoft behaved as a typical bureaucratic organization. It turned a blind eye to people inquiries. Despite being warned that it’s time for the domain renewal, Microsoft overlooked these notifications. Therefore, the domain was returned to the pool of available domains. Moreover, its mail service wasn’t accessible in England.

Luckily, the domain was grabbed at once. The new owner was so kind that tried to inform Microsoft immediately that they needed to re-register the domain and restore the service. Nevertheless, Microsoft didn’t seem eager to get their site back and ignored these messages. Microsoft realized the issue just when journalists contacted it.  Only then, the software giant reached a new owner of their domain. What is more, even after that, during a long period of time Microsoft had been stalling for time before the problem was sorted out. It seems that no one in the UK could deal with the problem, because only the central office was responsible for domain registrations.

Fortunately, hotmail.co.uk was regained. But still, Microsoft didn’t officially confirm that hotmail.co.uk had been dropped.

Only a registrar for all .uk domains shed light on this situation and born out that hotmail.co.uk had failed to be renewed despite being warned about the importance of the renewal procedure. Moreover, the registrar confirmed that the domain was snatched up by a private person. Apparently, all notifications via mail were ignored by the giant. It’s interesting that it wasn’t the very first time when something like that has happened with this company. In 1999, Microsoft had similar bad experience.

What happens after domain expires?

The procedure depends on registrar of the domain names. In addition, this procedure has changed many times over history. In this article we will be concerned with the most typical up-to-date procedure.

The first stage - the registrar shows loyalty to the client and gives extra time for domain renewal (grace period). Your grace period may take about from one to 2-3 weeks. This window can have a few deadlines - for example, a free update period, an additional fee etc.  When the domain is in a grace period where all services are shut off, it isn’t available for registration by anybody else.

The second stage - the auction. After the registrar is sure that the domain renewal hasn’t been done, he puts it up for auction. It's a registrar’s chance to bring in extra income- the domain can be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  Let’s be frank, it works- many domains are snapped up at auction. Let’s look at some of the most popular auctions:

  •  Go Daddy Auctions
  •  NameJet
  •  SnapNames.com

Each registrar cooperates with only one of these auction services. Domain names are exclusive to one auction, as the sell-off can’t take place at two locations. How does the auction work?

To begin with, there is often the opportunity to place a backorder. For example, if someone is very interested in scoring your domain name. In this case, the buyer will get the notification about the expiration status of the target domain and, definitely, leverage this opportunity. It’s worth noting that during this period, domains can be included in backorder auctions, where another participant can bid on your domain name. Generally, an auction can consist of several stages, as well as, after the main auction can follow the closeout of least desired domain names.

In addition to this, there are such sites that collect information and provide it in a more convenient way. For instance, these sites will help you to discover that more than 3 million domains have expired for the last 10 days. Furthermore, you will realize that even expensive (costing up to $ 500K) domains can be dropped after a while.

The third stage - domain "death". The domain disappears, and it can be retrieved on a common basis. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely if a domain name has any marginal value, as well as, consists of unambiguous words and is well-promoted. If so, the domain will probably get purchased, as nowadays it is also kind of business.

Some extra good examples

In 2010, a well-known website Foursquare forgot to renew their domain name. Luckily, they noticed this in time and quickly sorted out the problem. Nevertheless, customers couldn’t reach the site during this period of time. At that time the internet was bombarded with these news, yet the company has taken the advantage from this situation.

However, sad examples do exist too. In 2012, a popular Indian travel site Yatra.com, with millions of visitors and huge income, dropped their domain. Therefore they lost not only money, but also their reputation, clients and the trust of their partners. Eventually, the domain has been restored. The company hasn’t been as successful since.
Such common experience has held almost everyone once in a while in their history, from banks to giant companies.  Actually, HostTracker had such experience too and it was the reason why we decided to write this article.

Web site monitoring service almost lost its domain

The truth is that host-tracker.com was almost lost despite having an instrument for keeping an eye for an expiration date and sending renewal alerts. Actually, this feature became HostTracker’s last resort, as all domains and sites are being monitored by HostTracker’s own monitoring system. In a manner of speaking, even though at that time the HostTracker company got the renewal alerts, everything seemed to be fine, as the auto-renewal was on. However, for some reason, the automatic payments didn’t pass through and the domain wasn’t renewed. To be honest, we are still not sure why did that happen, as their support could not explain the issue clearly. Luckily, we noticed the problem in time and solved it quickly.

To sum up:

  • Renew your domain in advance. In this case you might want to ask your registrar to set up your domain to auto-renewal in advance with your approval beforehand. Moreover, you will be notified in case of any problems.
  • Backorder does work. Just before HostTracker entered their grace period, someone had tried to contact HostTracker by mail to acquire the domain name. So pay attention to such things!
  • You would better not enter the grace period. Once the domain expires, it can be easily renewed at the regular price within a few days and HostTracker showed this. The disadvantage is that all customers will be greeted with the message that domain page isn’t available. You should never allow a domain to expire because working on recovering it can take a vast amount of time.
  • Monitor your domains for any changes. You can keep an eye on the state of available domains which you like, but don’t forget your own ones too. There is a wide variety of services, like HostTracker, which provide an easy, efficient way to track any changes of domain’s state. Check out the description of such HostTracker’s tools here in our blog.
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The main feature of HostTracker monitoring service is the regular checks of web sites with monitoring intervals from 1 minute. Moreover, the HostTracker’s dedicated global monitoring checkpoints network currently includes more than 140 servers all over the world.

The main feature of HostTracker monitoring service is the regular checks of websites with monitoring intervals from 1 minute. Moreover, the HostTracker’s dedicated global monitoring checkpoints network currently includes more than 140 servers all over the world.

Each test is simulating the visit of a real user. If this imaginary visitor is able to load the site – everything is ok, otherwise – the site is revised again by a certain algorithm (just to be sure). Then, if an error was identified, it is recorded in the database and the notification of unavailability is sent. This is the easiest way to check the site’s availability. If you are interested, HostTracker has a great deal of more sophisticated tests to offer.

Types of tools for web accessibility evaluation

Here are some quick checks you can start with immediately that will move your web site toward better accessibility. It is worth noting that these checks support different protocols.

For example:

  • HTTP - this is an ordinary request, which is obtained from the user's browser.
  • Ping – helps to test site or server network connectivity. 
  • TCP-port - tests the site-to-application connectivity.
  • Database Check - a health check which can ensure that the web server can connect to the database and can also help in monitoring of other vital features. For those seeking a possibility to check the data on the page, there is a content check function. In this case, the virtual client is not just logging in, but also looking for the presence or absence of certain words and phrases. This feature helps you to detect whether some important section of the text has been lost. Moreover, it helps you to spot any mistakes on the page at once.
  • With HostTracker service you can also monitor the response and loading time of your web site. Furthermore, the corresponding data is being written to the inspection logs.

Armed with all these tests, you’ll be eager to collect extensive and thorough information about your web site. You’ll be entitled to know when, why and how did your web site stop working. For example, when the network, server or web site itself are down. Moreover, by using HostTracker, you can immediately detect when web site performance goes down and omit causing any inconveniences for your users. Or even more – you can easily recognize when some data isn’t regularly retrieved from the database. All these tools can help you pinpoint and rectify performance and speed issues with any publicly available web site. It, definitely, saves your time! And, in this case, downtime is small.

Interesting fact:

Almost all HostTracker’s customers are eager to reach 99% or higher uptime. By the way, the data from this service could be a good support in your future confrontations with hosting partner. Truly, many HostTracker’s customers have found a reliable web hosting partner or made him fulfill all promises and commitments according to the contract.

  • HostTracker provides options for monitoring the domain and SSL certificate expiry dates. This problem seems to be handled easily, as the registrar sends alert notifications, but history provides plenty of notification neglect examples.  Dropping the domain name is a widely spread problem. Actually, Microsoft has encountered it twice.
  • Also HostTracker is one of the best resources that can help to find out if your IPs or domains are on some SPAM-database (so called DNSBL). Apparently, if it seems that you're engaged in spamming or other unwanted online behaviour, your IPs or domain could get blacklisted and blocked. The blacklist usually contains email servers suspected of spreading spam or servers that have been infested with some nasty malware etc. 

Most Internet service providers and web servers use these blacklists to detect IPs linked to computers with pervading spam or unwanted activity. And the problem is: you can be blacklisted accidentally and be unaware about it. If it happens, your rankings will go down or disappear entirely. You can be truly innocent of any deliberate wrongdoing and still be on the list. For example, if you share your web hosting with someone unreliable. With this monitoring function you can be always aware if your company’s domain name is blacklisted and be ready to deal with it. You're likely to come across contacting the list by email or passing through some sort of automatic procedures in order to prove that you are not a robot when you’ll be trying to get off a blacklist.

HostTracker service settings

All above-mentioned checks teem with the wide variety of options:

  • Maintenance planning and scheduling – allows you, for instance, not to catch the errors during the server upgrade period.
  • Checks from a particular location- as outlined above, there is a huge network of global monitoring checkpoints, and it is possible to choose only regions with potential clientele:

  • Delay alerts – this option will postpone alert notifications for a specified time span; manage notifications in line with the importance of issues; control the life cycle of both alerts and their notifications.

As regards alert notifications option, clients will find themselves spoiled for choice. HostTracker provides notifications via e-mail, SMS and, by extension, via Skype, Hangouts and voice call. The most striking one - POST request. There is a possibility to send a request to a specific web server (e.g. to restart the web site automatically).

HostTracker service has an API, which allows pieces of software to interact. It is considered as a contract provided by one piece of computer software to another.

The next HostTracker’s advantage is that the service doesn’t require a lot of system resources (e.g. installation any client software). Almost all features are operating using cloud services, and can be configured with only HostTracker’s web site tools. And service settings, definitely, won’t take much time!

Generally speaking, the service is still being developed, as well as, the monitoring network expands, new tools pop up and so on. Considering new tools, they are being developed in response to the requests made by clients. Please don’t hesitate to contact HostTracker’s admins if you have any further suggestions about extra tools which yet aren’t provided by the service.

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