Troubleshooting Hosting Problems

As a do-it-yourself webmaster relying on shared hosting you will invariably have times where your website appears to be unreachable or suffering from latency or other performance problems. Here is a quick guide for troubleshooting.

Trouble reaching a website or performance issues with a reachable website can usually be attributed to one of the following:

  • Your PC. To verify this, try accessing your site from another computer if possible. If not, try clearing the cache and then close and re-launch your browser. Alternatively, try a different browser (e.g., IE vs. Firefox). If you are using a firewall or proxy server, check those settings as well. Finally, you may want to re-boot your PC.

    Another way to test whether the problem lies with the browser or not is to use the ping command. I am not sure about Macs, but with a PC, choose the command prompt program item from the Accessories folder under the Programs menu (alternatively, choose the run option from the start menu and then type cmd.exe). Within the command window type ping domain name (e.g., ping yahoo.com). This will tell you if your computer is able to reach the domain. If so, the problem is probably your browser.

  • The DNS system. If you have a dedicated IP address, try using it to access your site. If you are able to do so then the problem is somehow connected to the DNS system, which is controlled by your web host provider. And, speaking of DNS issues, Lifehacker and the How-To Geek show you how to Clean Your DNS Cache to Fix Browsing Problems.

  • Your ISP. There are a couple of quick ways to test whether any problem lies with your ISP or not. First, try to access your site from a different path. One convenient way to do this is through a proxy server. There are several free services out there. One is called megaproxy. On that site you can enter your domain name and it will try to access it. If it successfully reads your site then there is a good chance that the problem lies with your ISP.

    A second quick test you can run from your computer is called a trace route. I am not sure about Macs, but with a PC, choose the command prompt program item from the Accessories folder under the Programs menu (alternatively, choose the run option from the start menu and then type cmd.exe). Within the command window type tracert domain name (e.g., tracert yahoo.com). This will show you the route being used to go from your computer to the website’s hosting data center. Based on where, if any, a timeout or slow time occurs you can get an idea of which part of the Internet connection path is responsible for the problems.

  • Your Hosting provider. Many web host providers have a network news site where any problems or maintenance issues are displayed. Always check this before calling for support.

Note also that there is a useful website called Down For Everyone Or Just Me? Keeping in mind the discussion above, you might save some time by using this site first. Just type in the address of the site in question to find out if it’s really down for everyone or just you. If it’s just you the above discussion will then be more useful.

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