UK Government Websites Found To Experience Considerable Downtime



StatusCake tested the uptime performance of UK government websites during June 2018. There
were 2,653 websites using a domain included within the testing sample.

While the average uptime was 97.12 percent, which falls woefully short of the target for websites of
99.90 percent, the laggards were offline sometimes half the time they were tested. Therefore, there
is a considerable uptime performance gap between the more reliable government websites and the
least reliable.

Testing approach

The testing was conducted by checking every 10 minutes to verify whether each site was loading up or not. The website’s home page was loaded but skipped script files like JavaScript or AJAX. These tend to load extra parts of a page or add additional functionality like analytics. They do not necessarily slow down being able to see the content on a web page because it is shown ahead of scripts being loaded.

The uptime/downtime calculation is based upon how many times the site was accessible when checked vs how many times it was not. As it’s not practical to check a website every second due to site performance concerns, this is the best way to test for uptime. While testing for uptime, the time it took for a site to load its home page, excluding scripts, was noted too.

Downtime was alarming at times

When reviewing testing data for the 2,653 websites, 287 had cumulative downtime of over two hours during the month of testing. Affecting 11 percent of the group, these sites would average more than a day of total downtime when matching this performance over a full year with no improvements.

Much worse, a full six percent of the sites tested saw uptime numbers under 98.6 percent, which equated to 10 hours of downtime every month and several days extrapolated over a full calendar year. Around four percent of sites would have 12 days of downtime over a year. By far the worst offenders were local council websites and not major government portals or information sites serving a national audience. Council sites are not managed at a national level and it shows.

Good news in the mix

When looking at the 2,653 domains, 78 percent of sites hit or exceeded the target of 99.90 percent uptime over the month of testing. That’s good news for many businesses that need to access these websites for business-related information.

For companies needing to submit forms or gather information from local council sites, patience is required. Some have dismal uptime, and many have unreliable uptime performance. There’s a clear performance difference between national sites and local ones. While the national government takes its knocks, in the testing, local councils were the ones often coming up way short of the mark with their websites serving businesses and local residents alike. Clearly, more needs to be done to improve their uptime performance, as the StatusCake research demonstrates.

For UK businesses, there’s a strong lesson in the research to pay more attention to uptime with their websites. This will avoid inconveniencing their customers and taking unnecessary financial losses too.