When setting up a blog or personal website, one thing to consider is uptime. After all, if your website is constantly offline, you’re never going to see an increase in visitors. Worse yet, websites with high downtime tend to have lower search engine rankings, making it all the more difficult for users to find – much less frequent – your blog. While I typically recommend that anyone serious about their website evaluates their options in terms of web-hosts and server providers, the fact of the matter is that the flexibility of a full-on host comes with a price; not only of monetary value, but of time and know-how to set up. This is the reason why so many people flock to blog hosts, who allow users to host blogs on their servers without the need to learn anything more than the blogging platform itself. Without the need to configure an HTTP server, database server, or anything of the likes, you are able to focus on the most important aspect of your blog: content.
Pingdom, a company that provides uptime monitoring solutions, recently conducted a study to determine which blogging services were best in terms of uptime and reliability. In a two-month evaluation process that went from 15 October to 15 December of this year, Pingdom set up a number of test blogs on various blogging networks. From there, they monitored the uptime of these blogs in order to determine which blogging services had the smallest level of downtime.
Blogging service Tumblr had an outstanding 47.5 hours of downtime over the two-month period. That’s almost two days! While Pingdom makes note of Tumblr’s database issues which were supposedly the culprit of the downtime, they also noted that the downtime between various Tumblr blogs was highly differentiated with a scattered number of short downtimes as opposed to one gigantic downtime. To me, this suggests a scalability issue on the part of Tumblr, and the possibility that the blogging service may have bitten off a bit more than it could chew in terms of a user-base. For this reason, I would steer away from using Tumblr.
Posterous, a lesser-known blogging network had a downtime of only 2.1 hours. Calculated out, this is an average of nearly 99.9% uptime, which is definitely reasonable for a free blogging service. One of the interesting things about Posterous is that is is run off of the RackSpace Cloud, a service very similar to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service. Because of my faith in RackSpace’s cloud network, I have a great level of faith in Posterous to maintain a minimal level of downtime, but more importantly have zero data loss after an outage. More importantly, RackSpace’s network ensures that Posterous is scalable, meaning that the site will be able to take on a higher number of blogs without having to worry about the capabilities of their servers.
TypePad had a total downtime of 12 minutes over the two-month test period, with no single downtime lasting more than six minutes. This downtime is so minimal that it likely went unnoticed by the users and publishers of the site, and was only unearthed by the microscopic analytical level of Pingdom’s monitoring. While TypePad has an impressive level of uptime, it is important to note that despite having a (somewhat hidden) free option available, the service is mostly a paid solution, with the lowest priced premium plan starting at $8.95 per month. If you are maintaining an important website or one with high-traffic, TypePad seems like an excellent and worth-while solution; especially with their highly minimal downtime.
WordPress.com is a very well-known blogging service. One of the notable features of WordPress.com is that it sports the highly renowned and highly customizable WordPress.org blogging platform. Asides from the flexibility of the WordPress blogging platform, one of WordPress.com’s best features is their uptime. Even with 15.1 million WordPress blogs as of November of this year, WordPress.com still maintains a highly scalable and robust network. With only six minutes of downtime over the two-month test period, WordPress.com is definitely one of the most reliable blogging solutions out there. While WordPress.com makes it dead-simple to start out with a free account, you can also opt to mix-and-match premium features for your site, ensuring you only pay for what you use. So for someone looking for a reasonably priced yet highly flexible and stable blogging platform, WordPress is definitely a good option.
Despite the fact that Blogger is seen as an “old” blogging platform, the blogging network acquired as part of Google’s purchase of Pyra Labs in 2003, the site is still seen as one of the most reliable blogging platforms in existence. Because the blogging service s hosted on Google’s vast number of servers, it’s easy for one to understand why Blogger would be so reliable. In fact, Blogger had zero downtime in the two months that Pingdom analyzed it. This, combined with Blogger’s relatively new static pages feature makes the site worth looking into. However, it seems to me that Google has put a more vested effort into improving Google Sites, a service that likely has the same strong uptime. Additionally, Google Sites can be integrated well with Google Apps if you own a domain, and can be adapted rather simplistically for either static pages or blogs.
At the end of the day, you have a great number of options when it comes to hosting your blog. Blogger and Google Sites seem to offer the best combination of reliability and flexibility, and WordPress seems to be very stable yet still provides a good number of options. With this in mind, I hope that you are able to start a blog without worrying about the downtime or functionality of your site. Once you’ve gotten everything established, take a gander at my article series on how to grow your website. If you have any questions, feel free to post in the forums or visit the live chat.