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24. Service Level Agreement

No BS.

About 10 years ago one of the biggest hosting companies (the one that could afford superbowl TV ads in the middle of the 2008 recession when banks were going bust) invented a really cryptic marketing ploy called a “99% uptime guarantee”. This guarantee has been parroted in one form or other across the rest of the hosting industry by hosts big and small.

The guarantee is BS, and it usually begins with some unworkable promise to new customers that they’ll get 99 point something recurring of uptime *guaranteed* with their web hosting plan.

Almost always, it will be printed in a table of percentage uptime levels (something like below) with scaled refunds for how much you get if the host’s servers fail:

99.9% – no credit

99.3% uptime – 10% credit…

98.7% uptime – 15% refund etc

The only thing guaranteed in these “99% uptime guarantees” is that you won’t be getting a refund when the host break its promises.

Here is why the “99% guarantee” is clever marketing, and why jane isn’t going there.

A. Numbers don’t lie.

Hosts that offer this “uptime guarantee” word it around a 30 day (or sometimes longer period to dilute the percentages) timeframe, and disguise, usually in size 10 legal jargon, that over the period of 1 month billing it’s fine for them to have 1% of downtime.

Problem is that there are 43,200 minutes in a month, so if they only have to have your website working for 99% of those minutes, then for 1% of the time (….430 minutes… over 7+ hours each month), they can have their servers down, and don’t have to pay you (even though you’re paying their wages) anything for what is actually a serious contract failure on their side.

7+ hours of primetime downtime every month, with people unable to access your website, is not a nice experience. That’s basically a day of lost takings if you’re running a business, and many more losses if those burned visitors don’t come back.

B. Recurring liars lie

The bigger liars, will, like pinnochio’s nose, grow a few 9’s on the end of that 99% uptime figure, to make it a 99.99% whopper.

Think about 99.99% of 43,200 minutes every month.

That would mean that your website is *guaranteed* to only be exposed to, at maximum, 5 minutes-a-month of downtime risk.

Sounds good, until you know that with the usual hardware and software changes needed to operate, not forgetting *events events events* that just crop up when running a cloud or VPS network, only a host using a Tier III/IV datacenter with MASSIVE redundancy (like what Google and the US army have) could actually *guarantee* you such low levels of downtime.

We use a Tier III datacenter that’s one of the biggest in Texas, that is virtually NEVER down, and even we don’t promise you that.

The mythical host with less downtime than Google (who offers to pay you back if they ever burst their own bubble) is very good at lulling people into a false sense of security. We feel so strongly about this misleading industry practice, we’ve actually made correcting this 99.99% lie a part of our own SLA.

If you have ever been with a hosting provider that has let you down (and most of us have) you have likely contacted the host that crashed your site to honor their 99% pledge, and stump up a refund for their 100% bad service.

Here’s the deal.

  1. Hosts touting 99.9% uptime guarantees have a ton of leeway not to credit your account for anything, even if you’re down for more than 7 hours.
  2. They have terms and conditions that are deliberately impossible for anyone who hasn’t done a law degree to understand, and within that mind-numbing maze of legalese, they bury insurance-style “get out clauses” to ensure that they, and not you, are the ones who decide how much downtime you really experienced.
  3. They deliberately do not distinguish anywhere in their agreements between an apache outage and a genuine server outage; so your website could be completely screwed by an apache issue, but the server stays up, and so you get no refund.
  4. These hosts teach their support staff how to write cleverly-worded legal replies to customers whose websites have been roasted by their failures…. Expect to read stuff about why it’s not their “responsibility”, “beyond [their] control”…”reliability of certain programming environments” BS… among other gems.
  5. And hey, even if your downtime is so glaringly obvious from space they can’t hide it, don’t expect much more than a 10% discount from the same poor service that put you down in the first place.

You cannot trust your website to a host that makes a public promise, breaks it, (because everyone even Twitter goes down) and then gives you a credit to buy something else from them.

The bottom line

Since we don’t nickel and dime our customers, ever, highlighted in green below is exactly how much uptime you can expect from jane, by definition:

We’ll do the best we can and that is usually 100% most of the time, and if it isn’t 100% we’ll do our damndest to get back to that as fast as is humanly possible.

That means you don’t get any kind of refund if our web hosting service isn’t up 100% of the time, or something, totally beyond our control, or something else we haven’t thought of, either scheduled or unscheduled, happens.

We know how much it annoys customers (particularly businesses) when website uptime is not 100%. And if we ever fall short, we want you to know that we want your long term business and we’re doing our best to get you back online as fast as we can.

Updated on October 28, 2017

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