Website Availability Improved Dramatically in 2017 Among Top 100K Sites

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Tracking the 100,000 websites most visited in the U.S. throughout the past two years, CloudEndure found that they dramatically reduced their downtime as compared to 2016, with over 30% achieving 99.99% website availability or better. 

For the 100,000 websites most visited by people in the U.S., 2017 saw a significant drop in downtime.

CloudEndure’s 24/7 tracking engine recorded the availability of these websites throughout the year, finding significant improvements overall as compared to 2016. For this research, we relied on Quantcast’s list of the websites with the most traffic in the U.S.

Our key findings for 2017 include:

  • 32% of the top 100,000 websites achieved at least four-nines (99.99%) availability, as compared to 14% in 2016.
  • 56% of the top 1,000 websites achieved four-nines availability or better in 2017 – nearly three times the figure for 2016.
  • 3% of the top 100,000 websites – and 11% of the top 1,000 websites – had zero downtime.
  • Only 15% of Fortune 1000 websites achieved four-nines availability or better.

These strong results reflect companies’ increased efforts to meet consumer demand for consistent access as well as the advancement of reliable disaster recovery technology. However, it’s interesting to note that the websites of companies on the Fortune 1000 list suffered from more downtime than the average of these 100,000 sites.

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Quantifying Real Downtime

While discussing downtime in terms of “nines” is a useful way of quantifying a site’s technical performance, translating those nines into specific amounts of downtime can give us a better sense of the real scenarios that businesses face. This table shows the maximum amount of downtime a website could have in a year, based on the number of nines it achieves:

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

Whereas three-nines website availability (up to 8.76 hours per year of downtime) was considered acceptable relatively recently, today more businesses strive for four-nines availability (up to 52.56 minutes of downtime per year). Increasingly, top businesses are achieving five-nines availability, meaning their websites have less than 5.26 minutes of downtime per year.

Positive Trends for Most Sites, But the Fortune 1000 Lagged Behind

The top 100,000 websites saw significant improvements in their availability in 2017, suffering from less downtime than they had the previous year. The percent of websites with at least four-nines availability more than doubled, jumping from 14% to 32%.

downtime report 2017 chart

2016 downtime report chart

While a relatively small number of the top 100,000 sites had availability of more than four nines, this upper end of the curve also saw dramatic increases: The percent of sites with five-nines availability increased from 2% to 5%, and the percent of websites with no downtime increased from 1% to 3%. Taken together, that means 8% of the tracked websites were down for no more than five minutes and 16 seconds throughout 2017.

While almost half of the top 100,000 websites still had three-nines availability in 2017, this was the category that had the biggest decrease – dropping from 63% of the top 100,000 sites in 2016 to 46% in 2017. This change again highlights that more websites achieved better availability in 2017. It should be interesting to see whether 2018 is the year that a majority of these top sites finally achieve four-nines availability or better.

The positive trends were even more pronounced among the 1,000 websites most visited within the U.S., a majority of which did reach four-nines availability or better in 2017. Whereas only 20% of these sites had reached that benchmark in 2016, the last year saw that number nearly triple to 56%. Notably, 15% of these 1,000 sites achieved five-nines availability in 2017 – an accomplishment that none of them had managed the year before. At the same time, the number of these sites with zero downtime jumped from 7% in 2016 to 11% in 2017.

2017 downtime by company larger

2016 downtime by company larger

But while the most-visited websites saw a major drop in downtime, results were more mixed for the Fortune 1000 websites. The percent of these sites with four-nines availability or better saw a modest increase, from 11% in 2016 to 15% in 2017. But even this improved figure lags well behind the 32% of the top 100,000 websites and the 56% of the top 1,000 websites that achieved this benchmark.

Meanwhile, the percent of Fortune 1000 websites with no downtime actually decreased from 11% to 6%. As in 2016, no Fortune 1000 websites achieved five-nines availability in 2017.

Related: Read about how Malibu Boats recovered from an IT disaster in minutes.

The Big Picture

As a whole, the relatively low amount of downtime recorded for the top websites in 2017 is encouraging. The trends are generally headed in the right direction for these sites, and it appears that four-nines availability is well on its way to becoming the industry standard. When we examine the numbers for only the top 1,000 websites, the picture looks even more promising. With most of these sites having achieved 99.99% uptime in 2017, we can only hope that these trends continue in 2018.

While these results are impressive, they are mostly unsurprising. We know that consumers’ expectations of consistent access are increasing, so it makes sense that the most popular websites would invest in solutions to ensure greater continuity. We also know that more companies are turning to that offer them faster recovery times at a lower cost than more traditional options.

On the other hand, the lagging results of the Fortune 1000 websites are a reminder that the risks of downtime are real. For specific examples, we need look no further than the major companies that suffered from website outages in 2017. Even Facebook, which holds a prominent place on the Fortune 1000 list, suffered from a newsworthy outage last February. Outages like that one are a good reminder of why it’s important for businesses of all types and sizes to have reliable disaster recovery solutions – solutions which they hope to never need, but which can minimize downtime in the worst-case scenarios.

While today’s businesses increasingly recognize both the risks of outages and the steps they can take to prevent them, there is also a growing awareness of the disaster recovery solutions that can dramatically shorten these outages when they occur. With those trends in mind, we hope to see more of the top websites achieving four-nines availability or even better in 2018.

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