Why Some Uptime Guarantees are Ridiculous
What’s ridiculous is the way some hosts – and some industry “experts” – glibly refer to uptime guarantees as if they were some sort of literal guarantee of future performance: “Wow, they’re offering five nines in their SLA,”
Uptime guarantees don’t promise what percentage of the time your server will remain online without network disruption, and they are not evidence of future network performance.
An uptime guarantee is – no matter which host you look at – simply a promise of what refund the host offers customers if there is a network outage.
And every network—even the most robust, redundant networks—at some point will experience an outage
The question is not: Will my host have an outage in the future? They are: How likely is it that my host will be the next to experience an outage? and, How quickly and efficiently will they respond and fix any problem that occurs?
Uptime guarantees offer absolutely zero insight into these questions. At best, they show the hopes and wishes of the host’s marketing team.
Instead of trusting in the hopeful promises and guarantees, a better judge of network performance for a web host is historical uptime. Historical uptime is a good judge of the quality of the host’s network, the theory being: if it hasn’t gone down much, it probably won’t go down much in the future. But where can you find reliable information on historical uptime?
Unfortunately, reliable historical uptime data can be hard to find. Most third-party aggregators of uptime data are actually pay-for-play marketing lists.
And for the few sites that do not charge, they are based on the uptime of a few servers, not the entire network.
The only truly unbiased, reliable way to gauge the historical network uptime of a host—as well as the quality of the customer support during an outage—is to investigate hosts yourself. Simply assemble your list of potential hosts and execute a few searches across the forum for terms like “outage” and “downtime” along with each host in turn.
It’ll take a while to read through the posts – and you’ll have to do a little sleuthing to determine which issues were actually due to user error (overloaded server, bad code, etc.) – but you’ll amass a wealth of information and customer opinions on the frequency and severity of network outages as well as the quality of support the hosts offers during trouble.
And in the event that you do experience network or hardware downtime with your host, your “uptime guarantee” in your SLA is your recourse for compensation. Hopefully, you’ll never need to know the details of how much uptime actually qualifies as less than 99.9% or 99.999% or whatever. But if you do, a good SLA will clearly state how uptime is defined and what you’ll receive if the “uptime promise” is not met.
Serious SLA Guarantees aren’t just a marketing gimmick but they are back up with statistical network information and certification. At HostStage, we do offer a 100% SLA guarantee as we invested considerably in a TIERS 4 certification for most of our services throughout our different networks. It is the highest level of certification delivered by the Uptime Institute. AS detailed earlier, it doesn’t mean we are 100% immune to downtime but we are to compensate you from the first hour of downtime giving the investments made.