:: Hosting and Domain Resource

24/7 Support

"24/7 support" means that, if you send an email to or open a support ticket with your host at 3:00 am, you will get a response at 3:01 am, right? Or it means that if you phone you'll be talking to a human being after the first ring, right? Afraid not. You are confusing response time with around-the-clock staffing. 24/7 support means that if you submit a support request at 4:00 pm, your response could come in at 2:00 am; or, if you submit your support request at 3:00 am, your response might arrive at 1:00 pm. Check the fine print of your hosting agreement for information about response time, time zones, hours of business, holidays, emergency support and monitoring. That kind of information isn't quite as catchy as, and uses more words than, plastering "24/7 Support!" banners all over the host's home page. Ten-hour response times are not unusual and some reputable hosts will even extend that to one business day, although you'll find that most hosts will actually respond much quicker than that.

On the other hand, it is reasonable that someone from or contracted by your hosting provider is monitoring their servers and network 24/7, and that someone is available (even if via pager) to address issues should there be a problem. The whole point of a website is that it's available to work for you at times that are convenient to other people and when you may be in bed sleeping. So this is what most hosts mean by "24/7 support"; they are "supporting" the servers and the network 24/7, but are not necessarily at your beck and call 24/7.

So what should you be able to expect? Well, if you've opted for cheap hosting, the answer is, "Not much." Of course, you should expect that your account is up and accessible for at least 99.9% of the time, but how reasonable is it for you to expect instant response from a trained and (hopefully) reasonably-paid support technician in the middle of the night when you're futzing with your blog and screw something up? Hmm. Open the support ticket, go to bed, and you'll probably have an answer in the morning.

But if you did decide not to go with the cheapest deal in town, what you can expect in terms of response time will depend on a few things, some of which are:
  • Is it an emergency, or are you just asking a billing, "what-if", "why" or other general question? Often your question will be received and read very quickly, but if it's not an emergency that needs to be addressed by emergency personnel it won't be answered until normal business hours.
  • Has a service that is supposed to be running 24/7 stopped working? If so, it's probably affecting a lot of other clients too, and so will be addressed quickly, although you may not receive a personal response until later.
That's not an exhaustive list, but not every support request generates a red alert back at Hosting Headquarters. Hosting is very much an automated and highly-reliable process these days, so the chances that what you're experiencing falls into the "emergency" category is fairly slim, and even if it does, there's a good chance your host will know about it before you do and will have the problem fixed before you've finished typing or dialling.

On the other hand, if it is your blog that you're futzing with and you break something, that may be an emergency for you, but should it be an emergency for your host? Unless you have a support contract for instant support for that type of problem, the answer is no. This is especially true because it's almost assured that whatever problem you're having is not the fault of the host and is either covered in documentation or in some sort of forum somewhere on the Web, and all you have to do is hit Google or your own favourite search engine to get the help you need instantly -- or at least very quickly, and probably quicker than it would take for you to communicate your problem to a support technician, and then for him or her to research the solution for you.
NinerNet Communications™: Web and email hosting, domain registration, SSL certificates.