Are you having trouble with your website? Maybe you're seeing a blank screen or the content isn't loading properly? There are a lot of things that can go wrong and while we've covered a good portion of this in our Frequently Asked Questions section we felt that it could be expanded on even more. If this sounds like your situation run through this helpful guide to quickly diagnose and fix your website by trying a few common checks to determine if you can solve the problem before contacting anyone. If these issues are not relevant to your situation please reach out to us at (479) 202-8634.
Let's start with this, if a friend, parent, client, customer, co-worker, employee, student from a university, or an email from an unknown sender reaches out to you to tell you your site is down make sure you personally verify this. This may be outdated, but like the X-Files used to say "Trust No One".
Visit your site and try doing a hard refresh. This will help to reload any cached pages that might seem stuck. The page will go blank for a moment and reloading will take a little longer while the browser grabs all of the data fresh.
Check to make sure your browser is updated. For example in Chrome follow these steps.
Website Planet is a helpful online website tool to inform you whether your website is working or not in real-time across a large swath of the world. Visit Website Planet and enter the URL/address of your website in the field and press the 'Check' button. Website Planet will show whether your website is online or not. This will give you a good indication as to whether your site is down in your local area and is most likely a provider issue, or if it's down around the world and there is something wrong with the site itself.
These next few steps may seem super obvious but there have been some occasions where it's crept up. Check that your internet connection is working by visiting a website that you might not frequently visit (to thoroughly rule out the browser caching issue from above.) Do this on both your desktop computer and a mobile device that is not on wifi, it's always possible that your wifi is just acting up.
If you think your internet provider is the problem check their website or call to see when/if the issue will be resolved. You may be the first to report it as well.
Example robust, family-friendly websites you might visit if you can't think of one.
Calling your internet provider will inevitably lead to restarting your router, regardless of how many times you've already restarted it moments before the call. It's in their script, they're going to read it to you, and 9 times out of 10 you'll do it again while on the phone.
Regardless of whether or not you see the green light check to make sure your internet is working by visiting a few websites.
Visit your hosting company's website and do a quick check for any issues they may be having with their servers such as a hacking attempt or planned downtime, and when those issues may be resolved. For example, if you are currently using Opalstack to host your website you can visit their Status page to review any incidents here: https://status.opalstack.com/
In some rare instances, it may simply be that your host or internet provider is unable to process a payment. This can perhaps be due to an expired credit card or Joe down in accounting just forgot to make a payment. If you believe this is the case we encourage you to reach out as soon as possible.
This is another big issue that still manages to catch us every now and then. When you run your site through a CDN (Content Distribution Network) service such as Cloudflare the pages on your site are cached. This means if you make any changes it might be a day or two before you see those updates. Typically you can turn off the cache configuration through the CDN when making changes, check this if you think it might be related to your problems.
Additionally, make sure the CDN's services are functioning properly by visiting their site and looking for any notices of downtime, maintenance, or other issues.
Another one that can quickly trip you up is managing your SSL Certificate by making sure that it is currently paid for or in the case of Let's Encrypt, make sure they are properly installed and not expired. Yes, they expire, generally lasting up to three months for Let's Encrypt and up to a year or so for more expensive types that provide higher-level vetting and verification processes. Neil Patel does a great job explaining this if you're interested in learning more. What is an SSL Certificate? It's essentially the "s" in "https" ensuring that your website is 'secure'.
Some, not all, browsers will refuse to display a website that is not using a secure SSL certificate. Often this results in a screen with the message 'Your connection is not private' which can often lead all of those people who contacted you to believe your website is down/broken.
You can check your SSL certificate using any web browser but in Google try clicking on the small 'lock' icon in the address bar. If the message reads 'Your connection to this site is not secure' you may have an expired certificate. You can reach out to your host to resolve the issue or contact us.
Occasionally Firewall software is to blame for a downed website. You can try a different firewall program if the one you're currently using doesn't allow for site-specific exemptions. I bet you're wondering how to tell if you're even using a firewall. Let's take a look however the firewall may be set up by an IT team to manage everyone at once and may not be specific to your device.
"Check the value next to "Windows Firewall" to determine if a firewall is turned on. If the value says "On," then you are using the Windows Firewall. If it says "Off," then you do not have any firewall protection. Click "Turn Windows Firewall on or off" in the left column of the window to activate the Windows Firewall. If your firewall is being managed by a third-party security program, it will be indicated in this location."
If your Mac is less than 20 years old then chances are you have a firewall. On your Mac click on the Apple menu → System Preferences, click Security & Privacy, then Firewall. If the lock at the bottom left is in a locked state, click it to unlock the preference pane and click Firewall Options. Note if the Firewall Options button is disabled or not.
Visit your website and check the status bar at the bottom of your browser. If you see 'Done' or 'Loaded', rather than 'Waiting' or 'Connected' then everything is working correctly but there may be a programming issue. If this is your situation you can try 'pinging' the site as described below.
On a Mac open 'Applications → Utilities' and run 'Terminal'. (Don't worry, this is built into the system and we won't be doing anything crazy technical). On a Windows PC, go to 'Start → All programs → Accessories' and select 'Command Prompt'. (Using Linux? You probably know where to look, but just in case visit 'Applications → Accessories').
Once you have Terminal open you'll want to type 'ping' followed a 'space' and then your website URL. Lastly, hit 'Enter' to run the Ping. Example:
If the server is up and running you'll see something like the following. It's likely this will continue to repeat indefinitely, press Control + C to make it stop:
Reply from 126.96.36.199:
bytes=56 time=13ms TTl=60
If pinging fails you'll see something like the following and you should contact us:
request timed out
A site may be down for a variety of reasons, including misconfiguration, corrupt files, database issues, or something as simple as needing to clear your browser's cache and cookies on your computer. If none of the above is working for you then it may be a bit more complicated and we would happy to help out. Please feel free to give us a call at (479) 202-8634 for a more thorough investigation.