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Outages, Overnotification and Ostriches

I have a problem. I am getting way too many emails trying to remind me, warn me, alert me. I did a Google blog search to see if anyone had sage advice. At the bottom of the page, one link caught my eye: “create an email alert for ‘overnotification’!” Nice. Sounds like a “Yo Dawg!” moment.

The worst part of it? I asked for it by signing up for a bunch of services that email me. People who like to write about business like this guy say things like “What gets measured gets done.”  Sure, that sounds sensible.  If I track what I eat and how much I exercise, it may help me lose weight. If I put together a budget, I might spend less. But it does seem to be easier to not step on that scale, not draw up a budget, and in this case, not keep an eye on my website.

A few weeks ago, I received a few emails from Scarecrow telling me that one of my websites was down. My first instinct was to ignore them, since they were brief outages, but they kept happening. On January 7th in particular, there were 18 separate outages totaling about 58.30963026 minutes. Yikes. I sent an email to my webhost with the dates and durations of the outages  – hoping they could correlate the data with their data and isolate/fix the problem. They emailed me back, and said there have been “…no issues with the server on the dates you mentioned…” Hmm. I looked at the detailed data again and found that the cause of many of the outages was DNS. Because I am using a DNS provider that is not my webhost, it makes sense that the webhost is not seeing these errors – the traffic never got to their server!

Next, I logged into my DNS provider and found they had been the target of a pretty gnarly Denial-Of-Service attack, which started on January 7th. Yay! (Not good that they were attacked, but the fact that they posted openly about what happened and what they learned from the experience is exactly the type of thing that makes me want to keep using their service.)

Is it really better to know?  Yes. I get it. It’s better to have the data, than not. Now that I know my website has been unavailable to potential customers, what will I do about it? Turn off all notifications and bury my head in the sand? That doesn’t really work for anyone…not even ostriches.

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