If you run a self-hosted WordPress site then no matter what web hosting provider or solution you use you will want to make sure that you have some sort of webhosting uptime monitoring service that will let you know if your site is down so that you can quickly respond and triage the cause to get it back up and online.
You would think that you build a WordPress site and just write posts and publish is all there is, but this is only the case if you run on the free WordPress.com solution, for self-hosted you are bound to run into potential issues that will cause site outages some which may be a result of your own site configuration or traffic spikes, others can be related to events and circumstances outside your control like bots, denial of service attacks or more commonly resource utilization spikes at your web hosting provider which causes them to throttle your services or your site runs out of resources due to overusage of RAM on a shared hosting plan.
Shared Hosting in particular can pose risk to your site as it is a shared platform and when another site on the same hosting provider has issues, it could bleed into negative impact to your site. I will go over some of the most common causes of site outages and what to do to help prevent, but even with my suggestions you should be using a service like Hrank which can real time monitor your site as well as show you a site uptime history so you can look for patterns of outages if they start to occur.
When it comes to a web site monitoring service many have free plans which do periodic checks and send an email, usually the premium plans involve more frequent checks and more contact options like text messages if there is a site outage rather than just an email.
Why Does My WordPress Site Go Down?
WordPress is a very flexible platform, this often means you can customize and configure it however you want and this includes the Theme and Plugins. Some WordPress themes are not optimized for shared hosting solutions, they make excessive amounts of JQuery and other calls that can eat up resources when connecting to your SQL database, this can cause performance impact and potentially trigger errors which typically result in your site presenting an HTTP 500 error which usually means there is a problem between your WordPress installation and the database and is a good indicator of resources being unavailable.
Plugins are another big factor, the more plugins you have installed the more resources are being consumed like memory (RAM) and the more queries and calls/connections to the database typically which eats up resources as well. You can use a plugin like P3 Performance Profiler to help find out which plugins are causing the most impact and try to find alternatives to remove them.
Page Not Found Errors are common if your actual website is offline, this will result in HTTP 404 and it means your site is not responding at all. The web instance may be completely down, or just simply cannot be reached due to a DNS routing error or something else. If you recently moved web hosting providers and messed around with DNS Zones or configurations you could have made a mistake there.
Regardless of which error you get, if you get notified your site is down and you can repeat the outage yourself you need to figure out why there is an error. The first thing you should do is look in your CPanel or Web Hosting panel at the Access and Error logs for your site, look for ERROR statements and particular ones around PHP plugins that may be failing. If you still don’t see a problem you can edit your wp-config.php and enable debug mode.
GO into your file manager or FTP of your web server, and edit the wp-config.php file
Change This Line:
define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );
define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true );
Save the file and then try to access your site, you should see any errors from PHP plugins or the site display what the error is. If you don’t see anything and your site just isn’t responding and you don’t see errors in the access or errors log, you will need to contact your web hosting provider support to help identify the cause of the site outage. You can potentially try recycling your site if your web hosting panel gives you the option to restart first however.