There are many web hosts that offer Uptime Guarantees for their web hosting services. However many of these ‘Uptime Guarantees’ are just marketing gimmicks.
Many hosting companies make a big deal of their uptime guarantees, whether it is 99%, 99.9% or even 99.99%. But the fact is, even the best guarantee will not stop your website going down.
It is a fact that downtime can, and will happen with any web hosting provider. It is a fact of life with technology, due to it’s complexity, and reliability on third parties. However it is always in the best interests of quality web hosting providers, that their web hosting is as reliable as possible. If a web hosting provider isn’t providing reliable services, then they will get a substantial number of customer complaints and experience additional costs in managing those, and no business wants that. Not only that, but they will get bad web hosting reviews, lose customers, and will get a bad name in the industry.
Many hosts we have seen that do offer ‘Uptime Guarantees’ , have a tiered guarantee table, offering of up to a 100% refund of the monthly fee. This means they will over refunds for different amounts of downtime your website may experience. For example, for between 98%-99.5% of uptime, they may offer a 5% refund, for 95%-98% they may offer a 25% refund, and for 90%-95% they may offer a 100% refund. Uptime is also usually calculated monthly, and not per day. So under our example, if your website has 3 hours of downtime in a single day, which is 87.5% of uptime for the day, you don’t get a 25% refund. If the website is up for the rest of the month, that 3 hour downtime represents 99.6% uptime for the month, so under our uptime guarantee example above, you wouldn’t qualify for any refund for that month.
The other thing that will affect the Uptime Guarantee, and whether you qualify for it, are downtime exclusions. Such exclusions we have seen include things like:
- Scheduled network, server and software maintenance and upgrades
- User errors, and faults with website scripts.
- Outages with upstream providers
- Software issues with third party software.
- Other issues that they may not list, but are beyond their control.
The problem is that these exclusions are most likely going to be cause of any downtime.
Many uptime guarantees we have seen will also only cover ‘website’ uptime, and not other services like email.
Many of those web hosts that do offer uptime guarantees will require their customers to contact them within 30 days of the downtime, to apply for the refund. They also may require proof that the downtime occurred, to compare it with their own logs, so you have to trust that their logs are correct. They won’t usually apply the refund automatically, even if they know their uptime guarantee was breeched. You may ask ‘Why do they do make me apply for it?‘ and ‘Why not apply it automatically to all affected customers?‘. We don’t know the answer to that, but it is probably because they know that many of their customers may not have noticed the amount of downtime, and those that did won’t want to be bothered spending the time applying for it, for what may only amount to a couple of dollars.
So effectively the ‘Uptime Guarantee’ ends up costing the web host very little, but it gives the impression of security. The hosting infrastructure will also usually be no better, than that of a web host not offering such a guarantee. So a company offering such an uptime guarantee, does not mean that the hosting is any better quality.
Many hosts also will only provide you with a credit, rather than a refund, and usually it will just be a small percentage of the amount you have paid. eg. A guarantee may offer a 5% refund if the uptime is down to 98% in a month…that is 15 hours of downtime in that month which is a lot. This means if you are paying $30 per month, and you experience up to 15 hours of downtime, you can apply for a refund of just $1.50. This is simply not worth most peoples time applying for. But even then you still may not qualify for the refund, if the problem is excluded by the web hosts Uptime Guarantee exclusions.
Although some web hosts may offer some very good Uptime Guarantees of over 99.9% with no exclusions, many we have seen aren’t that great. Those that do offer really good uptime guarantees may have a few more zeros on the end of the monthly hosting price, and offer a SLA (service level agreement) where the guarantee is more clearly defined.
The good thing is that for top premium hosting providers like us, it would be very rare to experience large amounts of downtime on their premium hosting plans.
At the Lounge Network we don’t offer these types of ‘Uptime Guarantees’, which we think are just marketing gimmicks that offer a false sense of security. Instead we concentrate on providing a better hosting infrastructure for our premium hosting plans, with multiple levels of backups, better quality upstream providers and better redundancy. We also strive in making our services are reliable as possible, and being open and honest about any hosting issues. We post any notices of server maintenance, issues or outages on our network status page, so all clients are aware of them. Our premium hosting plans do exceed 99.9% uptime and we are already one of the most reliable NZ hosting providers.
So the moral of this story, is to take any uptime Guarantee with a grain of salt. There are more important things to consider, and at the end of the day, and many Uptime Guarantees may end up being worthless, as they often have exclusions that invalidate the guarantee anyway.