When your website unexpectedly goes down, it can be pretty easy to freak out. But fear not! Following this easy 5 step process will ensure you’ll get it back up as quickly as possible.
Being a web designer, you can imagine that when it comes to my own website’s performance and security, I’m pretty on top of things. My domains and hosting are all on auto-renew and the companies I use for each are not the cheapest options but the BEST options I could find.
Imagine my surprise then, when last Wednesday morning a client replied to my weekly Short & Sweet saying that the link to my full blog post was broken.
Eeeek! I immediately felt my heart rate elevating and panic settling in. A voice in my head was saying “Unprofessional, unprofessional, unprofessional.”
Luckily, before I was swept away by hysteria altogether, the rational part of me stepped in and took control 😉
I proceeded to take the following five steps, which I now pass on to you.
Step #1: Spring into action
As I learned from coach wonder Nan Reed Twiss, a fabulous antidote for worry is plain and simple action. Think about it: it’s pretty difficult to be fretting and crying once you move your brain into action mode. It works every time.
So when your website goes down, although it’s easy to start panicking about all the business you might lose as a result, or what a bad impression you’re making on prospects, put those thoughts aside as best you can and spring into action (meaning … move on to step two!).
Step #2: Check your domain settings
Where is your domain registered? If you don’t know, find out RIGHT NOW and make sure you have the URL to log in to your domain account, your username, and an accurate password that works – on hand at all times. That way, if your website ever does go down, you’ll have what you need.
Once you’re logged in, check to see that your domain is still in your account and paid for, and that everything looks as it should. A common reason I’ve seen websites go down is that the person’s credit card in their domain account expired and when it came time to renew, the payment didn’t go through and the domain expired. Bam – website down.
If you don’t see anything amiss, move on to step three.
Step #3: Contact your website host
Where is your website hosted? If you don’t know, follow the same as above. Find out RIGHT NOW and make sure you have all your login info on hand for the future.
Once you log into your hosting account, call or open a chat with support and ask if they know anything about what’s going on. A good hosting company will be eager to help you get your site back up if they can. A crumby hosting company will probably say “It’s not us – it’s you. Good luck,” or something similar.
Most likely by now you will have discovered what’s going on and gotten the help you need, but if not, move on to step four.
Step #4: Deactivate your WordPress plugins
If you have a WordPress website and contacting your domain/hosting companies didn’t get you any answers or help, it’s time to sleuth a bit further. This might be a good time to hire a professional to help out if you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty.
But if you do… download an FTP client (such as FileZilla or Cyberduck) and log into your website’s FTP account (your hosting company should be able to provide this information). Once you’re there, click on the folder “wp-content.” Inside this folder, you should see a folder called “plugins.” Change the name of this folder to “plugins_old” and you will have deactivated all your plugins in one fell swoop.
If at this point you find you can access your site again, that means one of your plugins was causing the site to break. Log into your WordPress website, go to the plugins page, and re-activate your plugins one by one. When your site breaks again, you’ve found the culprit.
Step #5: Have patience and faith
When my site went down, I found out that my domain registrar had a power outage. They were working as quickly as they could to correct the problem, but in the meantime, all I could do was wait.
Easier said than done, of course.
But I did come up with a few mantras that helped:
“I’ve worked hard to achieve a stellar business and reputation. This will NOT make or break it.”
“This happens to all of us sometimes. And people understand that.”
Remembering that my business could not be broken by something as minor as this really helped to keep things in perspective.
For the future…
To make sure you’re ready for whatever comes at you, take care of the following now:
✅ Know where your domains are registered! Have your account login URL, username, and password on hand.
✅ Know where your website is hosted! Have your account login URL, username, and password on hand.
✅ Choose a high-quality website host for your WordPress website (I recommend WP Engine, Flywheel, or SiteGround). Remember that when it comes to hosting, you get what you pay for. Avoid GoDaddy at all costs.
✅ Make sure ALL of your domains are on auto-renew
✅ Make sure you’re receiving emails from your domain/hosting accounts about billing, etc.
I hope this blog has shown you exactly what to do in the event that your website ever goes down.
Although it can be hard to see in stressful times, something good often comes out of everything that happens to us.
For example, as it turns out, a silver lining of my whole experience was having the idea for this blog post 🙂