89% of the Most-Visited Websites Had Downtime in Q1 2016

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CloudEndure Website Availability Study of Top 100,000 Websites: 89% of the Most-Visited Sites in the U.S. Had Downtime in Q1 2016

Study showed 70% of top 100,000 sites had 99.9% uptime or better; nearly 40% of Fortune 1,000 companies and the top 1,000 sites had even more success by achieving no downtime.

Website availability matters. For businesses, Web downtime is similar to shutting off the lights on customers during a popular holiday sale at a brick-and-mortar store. The top brands seem to understand this.

During Q1 of 2016, CloudEndure tracked the 100,000 most-visited websites in the U.S. – a list that includes favorites such as Google, Facebook, The New York Times and Tumblr – as ranked by the audience measurement service Quantcast. CloudEndure developed its own tracking engine that — 24 hours, 7 days a week, without interruption — closely monitored the top 100,000 websites throughout the entire fiscal quarter.

Companies aim for a certain amount of uptime, but also acknowledge they have at least one outage per quarter.

That’s what CloudEndure learned early in 2016, when it surveyed companies about disaster recovery practices: a majority of them aim for 99.9% or better availability but still suffer from downtime. So with our recent review of the top 100,000 websites, we set out to learn precisely how much uptime and downtime these most-visited sites actually had and whether those findings aligned with what the surveyed companies told us earlier in the year.

Availability Breakdown by CloudEndure

Top 100K websites - Availability in Q1 2106

We found that 52% of the 100,000 most-visited websites achieved 99.9% (or “three nines”) availability in the first fiscal quarter of 2016. That means of the most popular websites, 52% of them had the operational backing to stay online for all but 2.2 hours, on average, in the quarter. Stretched out over a year, that’s an average of only 8.76 hours of downtime.

Clearly, the organizations behind these websites have the financial and physical resources to ensure that downtime was kept to a minimum. Still, that minimum of “three nines” wasn’t the gold standard among Quantcast’s top 100,000.

CloudEndure found that 7% of the most-visited websites had 99.99% (or “four nines”) availability in the first quarter of 2016. That’s an average of 13.4 minutes of downtime in the quarter, and would represent 52.56 minutes of downtime if stretched through the year. Yet, those companies were not the top dogs of availability: 11% of the most-visited websites had no downtime whatsoever during the quarter.

On the flip side, CloudEndure’s tracking revealed 29% of the top 100,000 sites could achieve only 99% (“two nines”) availability, and 1% of them struggled even more by reaching only 90% (“one nine”) availability – which means those relatively few sites were down, on average, nine days over the quarter, an amazing average of 36.5 days downtime over the course of a full year.

Availability Goals of Popular Companies are Universal

CloudEndure’s tracking of the most visited websites revealed that the realities of downtime aligned with the availability goals of many companies we surveyed about disaster recovery earlier this year.
The 2016 Disaster Recovery Survey – our survey of 258 directors, CIOs and managers of large, small and mid-sized companies – showed that a vast majority of organizations (74%) had a service availability goal of 99.9% or better (“three nines” or less than 9 hours of downtime a year). Sure enough, 70% of the top Quantcast sites indeed achieved “three nines” or higher in the first quarter of 2016, showing that most organizations – regardless how popular their websites are – have the same availability goals.

The 2016 Disaster Recovery Survey also found that despite having a “three nines” goal, almost two-thirds (64%) of the organizations we surveyed had one outage in the three months prior to being surveyed. And that reality shows itself in our monitoring of the most popular websites: these sites were down anywhere from 14 minutes, on average, to 9 days in Q1 2016.

Here is a handy chart that explains how much downtime each “9 level” translates on a yearly/quarterly basis:

Availability % Downtime per year Downtime per quarter
90% (“one nine”) 36.5 days 9 Days
99% (“two nines”) 3.65 days 21.6 Hours
99.9% (“three nines”) 8.76 hours 2.2 Hours
99.99 (“four nines”) 52.56 minutes 13.4 minutes
99.999% (“five nines”) 5.26 minutes 1.3 Minutes
99.9999% (“six nines”) 31.5 seconds 7.7 Seconds


Fortune 1,000 Companies are the Best of the Bunch

Top 100K websites by company type - Availability in Q1 2106
CloudEndure went beyond measuring the availability of those most-visited websites. We also looked closely at the Fortune 1,000 companies whose websites appear on the top 100,000 list.
The Fortune 1,000 crowd had more success than the larger group as a whole with 39% of their sites having no downtime (compared to 11% in the top 100,000) and 14% achieving 99.99% availability.

A Striking 36% of the Top 1,000 Websites Had No Downtime

Lastly, we also closely reviewed the availability of the top websites within the top 100,000 website list. We wanted to see if the 1,000 most-visited sites also had achieved better availability than the rest of the pack. Guess what? They did.
Indeed, 36% of the top 1,000 websites had no downtime at all in Q1 2016. This achievement shows that the more eyeballs a website attracts, there is greater success behind the scenes preventing downtime.