FutureQuest, Inc. FutureQuest, Inc. FutureQuest, Inc.
Why won't my site respond? Is the server down?
Posted on 24 October 2003 06:08 PM

No matter what precautions we take, sites can become slow or unreachable for a multitude of reasons other than the server being down. Getting from Point A to Point B is not as simple as it may appear. All sorts of things can go wrong along the way. This page contains information about what you can do to get an idea of where a problem might be before calling anyone for help.

  • Your connection to the Internet. It is quite possible you have a problem with your ISP and your access is slow. Try visiting other sites and see how the response time is.
  • The whole Internet or parts of it are slow. During peak hours, many backbone providers and local servers get bogged down with email requests, etc...
  • Maybe you are the Yahoo! Pick of the Day. Yeah, and that is Ed McMahon ringing your doorbell!
  • Problems with the server. It is possible that there is in fact a problem with the server. It can be anything from a communication routing problem to an overloaded server.

Quite often, by the time you figure out the problem, it will have somehow fixed itself. Somehow your site knows a trip to the doctor might happen and all of a sudden, everything stops hurting.

Is there anything I can do to verify what's wrong?

There are some diagnostics you can perform to get an idea of what the problem might be. Before calling for help, having a good idea of where the problem might be can save you some time and embarrassment. Our System Administrators appreciate those who will take a little time to find out if the problem is with our server before contacting them for help. By reading this right now you are getting a thumbs up from the FutureQuest System Administrator!

If you are using Windows 95/NT, try pinging the server:

  1. click the 'Start' button
  2. click 'Programs'
  3. click 'MS DOS Prompt' to start up a DOS window
  4. Type: C:\\> PING mydomain.com [ ping futurequest.net ]
Pinging futurequest.net [205.244.185.200] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 205.244.185.200: bytes=32 time=142ms TTL=62
Reply from 205.244.185.200: bytes=32 time=125ms TTL=62
Reply from 205.244.185.200: bytes=32 time=120ms TTL=62
Reply from 205.244.185.200: bytes=32 time=125ms TTL=62

Ping statistics for 205.244.185.200:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 120ms, Maximum = 142ms, Average = 128ms

The above example indicates a nice, healthy, responsive site. Notice that the time for the response from the server is under 200ms, or 1/5 of a second. An unhealthy connection might look like this:

Pinging slowserver.com [205.205.205.205] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 205.205.205.205: bytes=32 time=645ms TTL=62
Reply from 205.205.205.205: bytes=32 time=876ms TTL=62
Request Timed Out

If you get no response back from the command, well the problem is very serious! But is it the server?

Another test you can run to pinpoint where the problem is.

The tracert command is a little program when run from the DOS window, shows us the journey from your PC to your site. The path you take might surprise you! What is meaningful about this test, is that we can see how long the various hops from point to point take and from there decide if the problem is with the server or somewhere between your PC and the server itself.

If you already closed your Dos Window:

  1. click the 'Start' button
  2. click 'Programs'
  3. click 'MS DOS Prompt' to start up the DOS window
  4. At the C:\\> type: TRACERT mydomain.com [ tracert futurequest.net ]

The results may look something like this:

Tracing route to weWontTell.com [207.207.207.207]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 1 ms 1 ms 1 ms spunky.terra.tek [192.168.11.1]
2 141 ms 136 ms 127 ms nsv0-net0.oca.mercury.net [205.244.185.9]
3 131 ms 136 ms 126 ms oca-r0-mbs-e0.oca.mercury.net [205.244.185.1]
4 132 ms 137 ms 157 ms mc-gnv-core-e1-3.mercury.net [205.244.184.1]
5 147 ms 116 ms 137 ms mc-gnv-core-e1-3.mercury.net [205.244.184.1]
6 187 ms 166 ms 178 ms sl-gw3-dc-1-7-T1.sprintlink.net [144.228.122.13]
7 328 ms 201 ms 177 ms sl-bb3-dc-6-0-0.sprintlink.net [144.228.20.4]
8 168 ms 157 ms 187 ms sl-bb5-dc-0-0-0-155M.sprintlink.net [144.232.0.5]
9 188 ms 186 ms 177 ms sl-bb10-atl-1-0-155M.sprintlink.net [144.232.8.113]
10 187 ms 179 ms 177 ms sl-gw4-atl-0-0-0.sprintlink.net [144.232.3.158]
11 195 ms 187 ms 197 ms sl-rapidsite-1-0-T3.sprintlink.net [144.228.86.10]
12 246 ms 207 ms 196 ms weWontTell.com [207.207.207.207]
Trace Complete

The example above looks pretty healthy, but it still is amazing how many systems every packet (avg. 1,500 characters/bytes per packet) must pass through to get to and from our PC to this server. (We didn't use the FutureQuest server for this example because currently I am on a PC that is only two hops from the server, a luxury most do not have.)

Tracing route to WeCantTell.com [208.208.208.208]
over a maximum of 30 hops:
1 1 ms 1 ms 1 ms spunky.terra.tek [192.168.11.1]
2 126 ms 127 ms 126 ms nsv0-net0.oca.mercury.net [205.244.185.9]
3 131 ms 126 ms 127 ms oca-r0-mbs-e0.oca.mercury.net [205.244.185.1]
4 122 ms 116 ms 147 ms mc-gnv-core-e1-3.mercury.net [205.244.184.1]
5 121 ms 137 ms 127 ms mc-gnv-core-e1-3.mercury.net [205.244.184.1]
6 152 ms 217 ms 166 ms sl-gw3-dc-1-7-T1.sprintlink.net [144.228.122.13]
7 167 ms 157 ms 167 ms sl-bb1-dc-0-0.sprintlink.net [144.228.20.1]
8 163 ms 187 ms 177 ms Hssi1-0-0.BR1.TCO1.Alter.Net [137.39.103.17]
9 163 ms 166 ms 166 ms 111.ATM3-0-0.XR2.TCO1.ALTER.NET [146.188.160.70]
10 164 ms 157 ms 167 ms 192.ATM3-0.TR2.DCA1.ALTER.NET [146.188.161.182]
11 164 ms 187 ms 177 ms 101.ATM4-0-0.TR2.ATL1.ALTER.NET [146.188.136.17]
12 189 ms 178 ms 186 ms 100.ATM9-0-0.XR2.ATL1.ALTER.NET [146.188.232.109]
13 184 ms 1177 ms 187 ms 194.ATM1-0-0.GW3.ATL1.ALTER.NET [146.188.232.125]
14 180 ms 237 ms 197 ms 208.233.88.1
15 * * * Request timed out.
16 * * * Request timed out.
17 * * * Request timed out.
18 * * * Request timed out.
19 * * * Request timed out.
20 * * * Request timed out.
21 * * * Request timed out.
22 * * * Request timed out.
23 * * * Request timed out.
24 * * * Request timed out.
25 * * * Request timed out.
26 * * * Request timed out.
27 * * * Request timed out.
28 * * * Request timed out.
29 * * * Request timed out.
30 * * * Request timed out.
Trace complete.

In the example above, we have changed the names and IP addresses to protect the innocent, but it is real. Reading down all 30 hops, we can see that things look pretty good until we hit a snag at #14. The router is not responding. We haven't even reached the server yet but instead got hung up on the backbone provider (line somewhere between here and there) meaning the server itself is probably fine but a line/backbone between them and us is down or cluttered. The problem might be temporary wait an hour or so to see if the problem clears up. If the long times and/or time outs are located between you and the server then contacting the hosting company will most likely do no good. If the delay is someplace in the middle, then only an entity that has no name and answers only to a greater power can help. In other words, it's a bottleneck on the Internet itself and you are stuck.

A much more serious problem would look like this:

Tracing route to WeCantTell.com [208.208.208.208]
over a maximum of 30 hops:
.....
13 184 ms 1177 ms 187 ms 194.ATM1-0-0.GW3.ATL1.ALTER.NET [146.188.232.125]
14 180 ms 237 ms 197 ms 208.233.88.1
15 * * * 208.208.208.208
16 * * *
208.208.208.208
17 * * *
208.208.208.208
Destination reported unreachable

This means the server the site is on is down and off-line for some reason. Again, there are many causes of this problem and we suggest waiting up to twenty minutes before contacting tech support because the last thing we want to do is pull the technician away from a problem s/he most likely already knows about.


Additional Notes: You may enter the Troubleshooting section of your CNC and click on the Ping and Trace Route option to see a Ping and Traceroute directly from your FutureQuest server to your PC.

Click Here to run a tracert from over 100 locations around the world to any IP address or Web Server you wish.

Additional web based tracert locations are contained at: http://www.traceroute.org/