When a Status Page Isn’t a Status Page: Godaddy Cpanel Email Outage October 2015
October 21, 2015
So, you couldn’t tell it by Godaddy’s Status Page, but there is currently an email outage for many of their Cpanel users. One of my clients has been down since Monday at around 4PM and from reading Twitter, it looks like people started reporting similar issues between 10/17 or 10/18.
Talking with Godaddy was not helpful, despite there being a number of similar reports on Twitter, when I initially reported it they said that they were unaware of any issues, but had me do a traceroute for them to help them identify the issue. My client called in several hours later and they told him that they only became aware of the issue before he called in.
It wasn’t clear what the issue was, but emails were being deferred when sent to his address(meaning they were rejected and the sending MTA put them on hold) and logging into webmail to send emails didn’t work, nor did sending via Outlook.
From what I can tell from speaking with them, my client speaking with them, and from reports on Twitter, there is no ETA and they haven’t indicated what the issue is. If you were to look at their status page, you wouldn’t know anything is wrong…however there is definitely an outage.
When the 24 hour mark hit for my client and still no update or fix from Godaddy, I went ahead and switched their email hosting temporarily so that they could get some work done and respond to the emails that have been piling up for the past day. Amusingly this triggered some angst from Godaddy support who in, what my client said was a rude tone, indicated that not only did they not have an ETA, but now he would not be able to tell if his email did start working again. Of course this isn’t true, as sending emails via webmail and SMTP doesn’t work, so all he needs to do to check is login to Godaddy Webmail or try to send an email from Outlook to see that it is still broken.
Update 10/22/2015: Email started working again yesterday evening. Total downtime for my client was around 3 days…over 72 hours. Of course it was obvious when it started working again, he called me within minutes of it coming up as he stopped getting errors in outlook.
When a Status Page isn’t a Status Page
To be fair, or I guess pragmatic, given their size maybe it just isn’t practical to keep their Status page updated every time there is an outage. If it was, there would always be something on there, as just from reading twitter, you will almost always see someone complaining of an issue with their website/domain/email. Even if only a small fraction of those are actually Godaddy’s fault, it is probably safe to say that there are at least weekly Godaddy Service Outages that impact a good number of their customers. This just wouldn’t be a good use of time for their employees…surely this Is Par for the Course with Web Companies? /S
And to be even fairer, they do change things from time to time. From browsing the Way Back Machine, they crawled the page 103 times in 2015 thus far and I was able to find two outage reports…well three if you count the two that were on the same day. So, while this page does change from time to time, obviously not every outage warrants an update.
For example on September 7, 2015, there was the below:
Hosting Control Center September 7, 2015 at 11:06 AM
Some customers are unable to login to CPanel, and some CPanel sites are down or running slowly. We are working to correct this issue as quickly as possible and appreciate your patience.
So, the question is what warrants a Godaddy System Alert…perhaps there a certain number of customers that must be impacted. This might explain why it typically says No Significant Issues. There may be some sort of metric where the number of impacted customers/sites must hit a certain point to be considered Significant and they can’t just ignore it.
Is this Par for the Course with Web Companies?
When you compare this to other companies, like Rackspace, Amazon, or Google, the difference is night and day. There are thousands of crawls compared to hundreds, as their status pages change a great deal. They typically provide a much more detailed and useful status page as well, which list out their services, what their current status is, and reports issues as they occur. After all, people depend on their services for business and are their customers, so having this information available is important.
It is possible that Godaddy is just a rock solid host, awesome company, and never has outages, unlike these other companies with fragile infrastructure. Or perhaps they are just a really small company and their IT team is good enough to mitigate issues within minutes when they happen, so there is no need to update the page. However, I think it is much more likely that proper hosts provide proper status pages, while Godaddy only reports items when they his a certain metric of customer impact.