Investigating Outages

Sometimes users experience website outages that may not actually be a website outage, but actually an outage of the clients connection, or some link in the middle.

When your web browser connects to a website, there is a whole lot of magic going on that everyone does not realise. It's important to understand what is going on, because just because you are experiencing an outage, it doesn't mean everyone is.

If you experience a website outage:

  1. The first thing you should do is check to see if you can access other websites. Just in case your web browser has cached any pages, you should do a google search or similar to prove you can interact with those websites. You should check both a domesticly hosted and an international website, because quite often international access drops off, even though local websites are ok.
  2. If the outage is unique only to your website, then consider that common reasons for an outage may be that your domain name has expired or that you have not paid your web hosting account.
  3. It is worth restarting your modem, and possibly your computer. Although this might seem a pointless exercise, it often does work. Computers and modems often remember DNS information, and this information can be cached incorrectly. The only easy way to explain to everyone how to fix this is to restart both their computer and modem. There are other ways, but too complex to explain easily over the phone. Please ensure that you have restarted both devices and retested before contacting support.
  4. Having completed the above tests, now is a good time to contact support (or anyone else who can verify that your website outage is actually being experienced by everyone, and not just you.)
  5. If the outage is experienced by us or multiple people, then we will work fast to resolve your problem.
  6. If the outage is not experienced by ourselves or anyone else, then we know that the issue is not one with our web servers or our service, but an issue somewhere else in the internet or your own personal internet access. Believe it or not, the internet is just a whole lot of wires and computers, and fires or storms or human error does cause internet "glitches" from time to time. There are many "links in the chain" between your computer and our servers. We cannot warranty the uptime of the whole internet, so both yourself and us have to work together now to resolve the issue. Unfortunately this may require that you contact your own ISP and provide very technical information. Note we can't do this for you, as we are not sitting at your computer, we are not experiencing the same outage as you, and we are not customers of your ISP.
  7. To debug from here, we need to do a traceroute, which identifies all the links in the chain between your computer and our servers.
  8. Go to your start menu, programs, accessories, command prompt.
  9. Type "tracert" and then either your web address or as per our example below.

C:\Users\XXXXX>tracert www.cms-tool.net

Tracing route to www.cms-tool.net [210.48.69.34]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

  1     2 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  192.168.1.1
  2    88 ms    88 ms    87 ms  219-89-55-1.dialup.xtra.co.nz [219.89.55.1]
  3     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  4    37 ms    37 ms    36 ms  ae4-20.akcr10.global-gateway.net.nz [202.50.238.49]
  5    38 ms    37 ms    38 ms  g0-1-0-4.akcr8.global-gateway.net.nz [210.55.202.49]
  6    37 ms    37 ms    37 ms  iconz-dom.akcr8.global-gateway.net.nz [203.96.64.70]
  7    37 ms    37 ms    37 ms  ge-0-0-3.air01-core.iconz.net [210.48.5.2]
  8    39 ms    37 ms    37 ms  ge-1-1.cat01-air-dist.iconz.net [210.48.5.102]
  9    38 ms    37 ms    37 ms  vip-34.cms-tool.net [210.48.69.34]

Trace complete.

The above trace route was successful, and you can see that my computer, connected to my ISP who is xtra, and that they connected to a company called "global gateway" who in turn connected to a company called "iconz" who intern connected to our servers hosted at IP address: 210.48.69.34. Note this address may differ depending on what country your websites are hosted in, or what country you reside in, or what ISP you access. The trace route indicates the pathway on which all website traffic passes through between our ISP and our websites. It's interesting to note isn't it. Most people would think the websites just goes straight from the web server to their computer, but no, there are lots of switches and gateways in the middle.

Below is an example where your own computer or internet access is failing. Please try restarting your computer and your modem. Please check that other websites are working for you. Contact your ISP for more help.

C:\Users\XXXXX>tracert www.cms-tool.net

Tracing route to www.cms-tool.net [210.48.69.34]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

  1     2 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  192.168.1.1
  2     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  3     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  4     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  5     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  6     *        *        *     Request timed out.
Trace complete.

Here is an example where the ISP is the cause of the problem. You need to contact your ISP to resolve this issue. Although reseting your computer or modem may still fix it.

C:\Users\XXXXX>tracert www.cms-tool.net

Tracing route to www.cms-tool.net [210.48.69.34]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

  1     2 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  192.168.1.1
  2    88 ms    88 ms    87 ms  219-89-55-1.dialup.xtra.co.nz [219.89.55.1]
  3     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  4     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  5     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  6     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  7     *        *        *     Request timed out.
Trace complete.

Here is an example where there is a temporary issue with a gateway, switch, or international connection. These outages happen alot, and normally resolve themselves quickly.

C:\Users\XXXXX>tracert www.cms-tool.net

Tracing route to www.cms-tool.net [210.48.69.34]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

  1     2 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  192.168.1.1
  2    88 ms    88 ms    87 ms  219-89-55-1.dialup.xtra.co.nz [219.89.55.1]
  3     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  4    37 ms    37 ms    36 ms  ae4-20.akcr10.global-gateway.net.nz [202.50.238.49]
  5    38 ms    37 ms    38 ms  g0-1-0-4.akcr8.global-gateway.net.nz [210.55.202.49]
  6    37 ms    37 ms    37 ms  iconz-dom.akcr8.global-gateway.net.nz [203.96.64.70]
  7     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  8     *        *        *     Request timed out.
  9     *        *        *     Request timed out.
Trace complete.

You should copy and paste the tracert into an email when contacting our support desk or your ISP. TO copy and paste, right click at the top left, click MARK, then drag the mouse down to the bottom right and click ENTER. Now go to your email, and right click paste.

 

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