Is your website down? Do you see error messages when you try to load your site such as… this site can’t be reached, the server can’t be found, 403 Forbidden, 404 Not Found, 500 Internal Server Error or 504 Gateway Timeout?

Here’s what to do: Firstly, remain calm. It’s most likely just a minor technical issue that is easily fixed. Follow these troubleshooting steps and you should be back online in no time.

Troubleshooting Steps to follow when your website goes down

1Check if the site is down for everyone or just you

Go to this site: Is it Down Right Now? Enter your domain name and click enter.

  • If it says “Your site is DOWN. It’s not just you.” then proceed to the next step.
  • If it says “Your site is UP and reachable by us” this is good. Maybe you just have an issue with your internet service or wifi! Go and check your internet connection. If you have a security plugin on your site, it might have locked you out, check the documentation for your security plugin. Your webhost may have put a temporary block your IP, due to too many failed login attempts, or your security plugin conflicting your webhost’s security (or something like that). Check with your webhost.

2 Have you made any recent changes to your site?

  • If someone is working on the site, check with them. If you recently installed a new plugin, this could be the problem. If your site is wordpress, check your wordpress admin email; there is a new feature in wordpress version 5 that will let you enter wordpress admin in safe mode to deactivate problem plugins, an email should be automatically sent to your wordpress admin email if wordpress has detected a serious conflict. In this case just click on the link in the email, and follow the prompts to deactivate the problematic plugin.
  • Do you use a security system like Cloudflare or Securi? If so, check for any issues with the set-up.
  • If you have an SSL certificate on your site (which you should) this could be the problem. Generally, SSL certificates are supposed to renew automatically every few months, but sometimes the automatic renewal fails, in this case you will be seeing a specific error message something like this “Your connection is not private. Attackers might be trying to steal your information, for example, passwords, messages or credit cards).  Error code: NET::ERR_CERT_DATE_INVALID”
    If you are seeing this kind of error, don’t worry it’s most likely not as bad as it sounds. Contact your web-developer or web host for help. Generally, your SSL certificate renewal can be quickly reset via cPanel, then your site should be back to normal in about 5 mins.

3 Check your domain registration.

If your domain name has expired, your domain registrar should offer you a grace period (usually at least several days) to allow you to renew at the regular price, if it goes longer than this you may have to pay an additional fee.

If you forgot to renew your domain name then pay the renewal fee, and contact your registrar support team and tell them you have just paid and please get your site back online as fast as possible. Your site should be back online immediately or within an hour or so.

4 Check your web hosting bill is paid.

If not, pay your web hosting fee immediately, and contact your web host support team and tell them you have just paid and please get your site back online as fast as possible. Your site should be back online immediately or within an hour or so.

5 Check that your nameserver records are correct.

It’s possible that you (or someone working for you) accidentally changed the nameserver records. These records are found within your domain registrar. If they were incorrect, be sure that you know the correct records and change them to the correct records. If you are not sure what they should be, check with your webhost.

Nameserver record changes should take effect within 30mins- 1 hour, however it may take longer and strange things can happen while the records are settling, some people may see your site (the update has taken effect for them) but for other people may not see your site yet. There’s nothing you can do about this, but wait.

6 Contact your webhost for support

Do this by live chat or telephone if possible, if you have to lodge a ticket, mark it as ‘High Priority’ if possible. Tell them the domain name of your site that is down, and the error message that you see in your browser. If you have more than one domain on your webhost, go and check them all. Hopefully your web host will be able to resolve the issue quickly.

7 Restore your site from a backup

Only proceed with this step if your webhost has told it’s necessary. Most webhosts keep backups of your site, ask them to restore your site to the last good backup.  After you or your webhost has restored your website, immediately go and check it carefully, check the functionality and click on as many pages as you can. If there are any issues, ask them to try again, or use another backup version.  You should also have backups of your site stored off your web server. Now might be the time to use those.

8 If these steps have failed, now’s the time to panic!

You may need to contact a specialist to help. Try contacting your webhost again, or ask for an advanced technician. If your site works partially but it’s a mess (and/or has possibly has been hacked) take it offline (or ask your webhost to take it offline) until your specialist arrives.

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