Is Any Website Downtime Acceptable?

In 2012, Google went down for 10 minutes, an outage that cost the company an estimated $750,000 in lost revenue.

That’s important, because it shows two key aspects of website downtime: First, when a website goes down, there is a cost involved to the owner, even if it’s not monetary. And, second, even the best websites fail from time to time.

The second part is especially important. Keeping a website running 100 percent of the time is impossible, even for companies like Google. That then leads us to the question: How much downtime is acceptable?

Sadly, there is no clear answer besides “as little as possible.”

Sometimes, though, companies need to have downtime in order to make upgrades to hardware, software, or operating systems. This type of downtime can be planned in advance and scheduled at a time that will affect as few people as possible, like 2 a.m. on a holiday weekend.

The other types of downtime, primarily component failures or malicious attacks, cannot be planned. It is in situations like these that a company like shows its value. With instant alerts, immediately warns a customer when its site goes down so that work on a solution can begin immediately.

Unplanned downtime is part of owning a website, but too much downtime can frustrate customers and drive away business. A site that is routinely down causes customers to lose confidence in the business and may cause those customers to seek out a competitor.

The first step for many businesses is to assess the value of each part of their websites. A company’s primary e-commerce portal might need extra protections to reduce downtime, such as a service level agreement with an outsource provider that reimburses the company for downtime over a certain number of minutes. Other aspects, such as a company blog or an archive of news releases, may not need that level of protection.

No one will be happy with website downtime, but it’s a fact of doing business. The best way to think about it is not to think about how to stop a site from going down. Rather, you should think about how quickly you can get it back online if it does go down. With the right monitoring and alert system, you can surely reduce that time. Just remember, Google goes offline sometimes too.

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