One of the sites that went down was the Ur-Guru’s. He hosts several domains on his own servers in his home office, though he also has a hosted ISP just in case. Even though he has both cable and ADSL internet, sometimes things can go wrong. And last Friday I got a message saying:
Hon, I have no idea what is going on.
I woke up noticed the server not having a connection. ADSL is down. But DOWN BIG TIME!
The modem does not want to connect at all. I have no idea what is going on. But… this might not be an easy problem or something I have control over. Of course, this also means your mail is stuck and you can’t reach it. Nothing comes in, nothing goes out.
This was followed by an update:
According to the info pages at XS “some customers” in Rotterdam center can’t connect. They are working on fixing the problem. It was reported at 8am so there’s no telling when this happened. I could probably see it in the POP logs (last time my checker checked my mail) but this is pretty bad.
I hope they fix this soon! If this was reported at 8am… well, then, they already had the entire morning and it’s now past 1:30pm already.
All mail to my domains will either go into fallback or get queued up. Mail for your author-izer domain probably won’t bounce either unless this problem is going to take 3 or more days. However, you can’t access my server now at all. Damn.
After that, I suggested that he write something for this e-zine about the importance of having a backup modem, and, in general, more than one way to get online when your business depends on connectivity.
This is what he wrote:
What I have and why would probably just puzzle people (given that my network, routers, etc. are created redundant so every one has a backup in case of failure… trying to explain why that is so important would probably go beyond the scope).
I would say, though, that if your internet connection is important to you and you can’t afford to be offline because your modem dies on you, it is useful to have a backup modem that you can hook up and continue on with business at hand. Sometimes it’s easy to see where the connectivity problems are, at the ISP level but once your modem no longer gets a sync signal and appears not to even connect at the basic level there’s no real way to tell what’s going on. Usually people would call their provider or cable or DSL company and that’ll get you into a queue and a lot of time gets lost trying to do all sorts of tests in the scripts of the helpdesk folks, many of those tests often being a waste of time.
Hooking up a backup modem that has been pre-configured has saved me a lot of time because if the backup modem, presumed to not be faulty of course, also doesn’t get a sync signal then it’s clear where the problem lies. It is then easier to call any helpdesk for information or details if you can tell them more precisely what the diagnosis is.
So for me, instead of having had to call the ISP and jump through their test script hoops I could immediately tell them the problem was the modem wasn’t getting a sync and a backup modem also wasn’t getting one so turning things off for 30 minutes and turning them back on would be a futile waste of time to try. Since the problem was affecting a wide area they already knew what to tell me but that’s beside the point.
If the modem would have been dead the replacement would have been an immediate swap-out and things would continue as usual until I get a new modem to replace the backup modem or have the new modem go be the new backup modem.
Just like your data, having backup hardware that forms a key part of being able to continue business, work, or otherwise, is a consideration to be made. Cost of having a replacement modem is probably less of an issue than wasting lots of hours not having any connection at all.
Saving arguments with the help desk is definitely good. That still doesn’t guarantee that your ISP will fix the problem, but at least you’ll spend less time on the phone to India.
I’ll be back next week with more on internet connectivity and website backup.