Is Your “Website Down”? 

By Lawrence Hearn, Support Lead

Never fear, problems have solutions. A handy guide to process of elimination trouble shooting.

Here in the support department, I and the rest of the team are in an interminable state of diagnosing and resolving all kinds of issues. It’s like the mail… it never stops, and no two packages are ever the same.

This is of course a bit hyperbolic; it’s not really that bad. However, I thought I’d take a moment to go over some of the basics of how we approach some common issues when we receive a trouble ticket. Hopefully this information might help you to get a better handle on things (should you encounter said issues).

Firstly, when it comes to “Our website is down”, 99% of the time the website is not down, not in the technical sense anyway.

If you try to bring up your website and it does not load, the most likely cause is that the IP address you’re connecting to our network from has become blocked in the server’s firewall (for any myriad of reasons). Common causes are a choppy internet connection, failed login attempts etc, but in most cases the blocks are temporary at best and only last between 5 to 15 minutes.

How can you know if (in fact) you have become blocked? The first thing I like to do is check to see if you can view the website on a device that is not connected to the WIFI network you are connecting from (such as a smartphone or tablet using a carrier signal like AT&T, Verizon etc). If the site comes up, then you know (#1) that the website is not “down” and (#2) that the firewall is blocking your IP address.

You have several options now from here…

#1:

You can use the “Unblock My IP Address” tool located under the “Support” menu in your customer dashboard at https://support.canvashost.comes

This tool automatically detects the IP address you are connecting from and queries the firewall of the server your hosting account is associated with and unblocks it. Very simple, very fast.

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#2:

Email support@canvashost.com with a request to unblock your IP address. In most cases the support system will flag the IP address you’ve emailed us from, but it’s good practice to provide the IP address in the body of your message. There are many ways to find out what IP address you’re connecting from, we have our own tool you can use at: https://canvashost.com/ip

Once we receive your ticket, we’ll unblock the IP and in some cases add it to the firewall’s “Ignore” list, which will prevent the firewall from blocking you in the future. This is performed at the discretion of our staff.

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#3:

Just give us a call. All though the other two methods are likely going to be faster, you may feel challenged by navigating the support system etc and we totally get that. As long as you can provide us with your domain name and the IP address you’re connecting from, we’ll get you unblocked right away. Our customer service phone number is listed right at the top of our website at https://canvashost.com Portland: 503.914.1118 | Toll-Free: 877.HOST.503 | UK: 0800 081 1815

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If your website is actually down for everybody then that is of course a totally different issue. Assuming there are no global issues with the web server and your website is the only one effect, questions our staff will ask in these cases are as follows:

When was the last time you recall seeing the website up and working properly?
Have there been any updates made to the website recently and prior to the issue occurring?
Has the person(s) who built and/or maintain your website(s) been notified and if so, what (if any) feedback do they have?

In most cases, websites break because of old, depreciated code or conflicts between different software installed on the website. The average WordPress site is an amalgamation of 2 to 3 software vendors writing code independently of one another. This is the nature of the platform and the finickiness of PHP.

Let’s use this an an example of a quick (process of elimination) troubleshooting technique…

In a WordPress file framework (which you can access via the File Manager in your cPanel) there are 3 to 4 core folders. One of which is named “wp-content”. In this folder is another folder simply named “plugins”. Renaming this folder (to whatever you like, I generally just do something like “plugins2”) will disable all of the installed plugins without effecting any other part of the WordPress framework. If you do this and then check your website and it comes up, then you know there is/are one or more plugins which just aren’t vibing with each other. Now you can log into your WordPress dashboard (you’ll want to name the plugins folder back to “plugins” first) and go to the Plugins screen to disable all active plugins, then reactivate them one by one, checking the site each time until you’ve identified which one(s) “break” the website.

Assuming there are no updates available for that plugin, it’s just a matter of uninstalling it and looking for a replacement, of which there will likely be at least 2 to 5 available depending on what kind of plugin it is.

And there you go! Now you’re an internet scientist and the envy of your friends and co-workers.