Bluehost Network Outage Hits Customers with 12 Hours of Downtime

Over the weekend, Bluehost experienced a severe, widespread network issue that caused customer sites to go down. The incident began Friday evening and continued into the night. As WP Tavern is hosted on Bluehost, we were watching the situation with keen interest, finally clocking the downtime at 12 hours before our site was back up.

The Bluehost Twitter and Facebook accounts kept customers updated as network engineers worked to resolve the issue. Shortly after midnight Bluehost said they identified a network loop within a portion of the network. Staff worked to restore services “while making sure we do not reintroduce the loop into the network.”

At approximately 10 hours into the downtime, Bluehost updated customers who were still down, citing “a packet filtering problem” in its core routing layer for which the team had created a fix. Within a couple more hours most of the company’s customers were back online.

Bluehost’s earliest communications about the downtime indicated a DDoS attack may have caused the incident, though this is no longer a strong consideration.

“It doesn’t appear to be a DDoS but we are conducting a full investigation,” Bluehost head of product Brady Nord told the Tavern after the incident. His team worked around the clock to identify and resolve issues until customer sites came back up.

“Many of our dedicated and VPS customers were affected to some degree for approximately 12 hours,” Nord said. “We made every attempt to keep our customers informed during the event as information became available because we understand our customers depend on our products and services.”

Nord would not share further details about the cause of the outage but said the company plans to complete a detailed post mortem to prevent future outages.

“With any significant event that affects our customer base, we conduct an extensive examination after the event to ensure we understand the root cause and develop a course of action to improve our systems and procedures,” Nord said.

Bluehost is one of the hosts listed on WordPress’ recommended hosting page and Nord said roughly 2/3 of the company’s customer base uses WordPress.

“The incident last night mainly impacted our dedicated and VPS customers which is a lower density section of the platform,” Nord said.

Bluehost has not yet published the results of its investigation, but support staff have replied to customer inquiries with a fairly definitive assessment of the issue as having been due to a spanning tree issue on their core routing layer.

Spanning tree protocol misconfigurations can cause network problems similar to what Bluehost experienced but results of the investigation should confirm whether this was the root of problem that took customer sites down over the weekend.


18 responses to “Bluehost Network Outage Hits Customers with 12 Hours of Downtime”

  1. Sorry for your hosting troubles.
    Question: do you maybe evaluate your further hosting at Bluehost or maybe you re-think your hosting strategy with Bluehost?
    Thx and good luck!

    • I like to have things on each of the hosts that .org recommends to get first-hand customer experience, both the ups and the downs. So Tavern is on Bluehost. Overall I’ve been happy with the speed and reliability since Tavern switched to it, this outage excepted of course.

  2. I have bluehost and I have been monitoring the uptime with, although it is very good since the downtime just last a couple of minutes it is kind of often, like once a month.

    My uptime is 99.39%, I was wondering, should they be offering some sort of compensation for the last downtime of 12 hs!!! I’m a web developer and I work with my site obviously. Having my site down 12 hs was not fun at all.

    • what if a downtown for a website is due to a DDOS attack?
      If a host is not responsible, they should take THEIR money because of what someone else did?

      On the other side of the coin…if your host programs things wrong, move to a new host.

  3. Jeez, left Bluehost a long time ago due to terrible downtime on a very small website. Useless and they did nothing to fix the problem. Now I’m with InMotion Hosting and much happier.

  4. I have several BlueHost and JustHost accounts for me and some sites I manage; they were affected. They are not revenue-producing sites (although working on one that will be), so the downtime was a minor irritant.

    But I followed the ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth’ on the BlueHost FB page, with many complaining about lost revenue, and threatening to move their hosting (to ‘punish’ BH, I guess).

    Although the outage was unfortunate, and certainly not something that anyone wants to happen, it can highligh a lack of thoughtful planning by those with $$-producing sites.

    My response to them: if you have a revenue-producing site, then you should have some sort of backup plan in case of site failure. You should have a alternate hosting place, and current ‘mirrors’ of your site content – static and dynamic. And you should practice your failover plan. You may even need to consider business interruption insurance.

    Yes, all of that will cost you some $$. But consider what you may have lost in revenue – and customer goodwill – without that plan. You can whine to the hosting place for refunds or compensation, but the real culprit, I think, is your lack of planning – what I call ‘website prepping’.

    Harsh, perhaps. But I’d like to see some guidelines on how to handle this kind of outage. (I noticed your site was down also.) It would be a useful article, I think.

  5. Yet another reason to be glad I switched to Siteground a few months ago: still no host-related downtime with them. Interesting check over at isitdownrightnow: Siteground has about 18 comments complaining about downtime from the past couple of years. Bluehost: 747!

  6. Friends don’t let friends host with Bluehost! Or with any Endurance owned hosting company for that matter.

    • Smartest comment in this thread, so far. I was with site5 for years…excellent company. Sold out to Endurance and now it’s a complete disaster. First thing they do is fire the support staff and turn support over to their low-cost-country script readers. Sad.

    • Completely agreed on that point, Marc. I’ve seen first hand (twice) the toilet that hosts get flushed down after acquisition by EIG.

      Site5 had an uptime of about 65% in the last 30 days (check out s4-sanjose at A Small Orange is throwing connection resets like candy. Both used to be great.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Siteground doesn’t get sold any time soon!

  7. Really? I’m not a bluehost customer but have we become so freaking spoiled that a 99.39% uptime (or an outage of 12 hours) yields such outrage? How many people actually lost sales during that time that couldn’t be recovered by a little facebook, twitter, or email work?

    Tell me one business, ANY business that has a 100% success rate? Seems in this case like they kept their customers informed and readily admitted the issue.

    The success of a company isn’t in how it handles it’s successes but how it keeps it’s head in a crisis.

    Most developers want to pay as little as possible for WP hosting and then cry like babies when the host glitches but the fact is that if they were making any real money they wouldn’t be on some cheap shared plan, and given the fact that the outage was overnight, they would have used that time to put together a morning marketing blast that would have used the outage to their benefit and capitalized on the problem.

    First world problems, third world thinking.


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