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The most reliable (and unreliable) blogging services on the Web

Blogging services

Blogging services have been around for a long time, with pioneers like Blogger paving the way for WordPress.com and more recent arrivals like Tumblr and Posterous. There are millions upon millions of blogs out there, many of them residing on these services.

One big bonus of using a blogging service is that they take much of the pain away from having a blog since they handle the hosting for its users and everything is already set up. Once you publish, the responsibility for keeping that content available online rests firmly on the shoulders of the blogging service.

With that in mind, we decided to test five of today’s most popular blogging services to see how reliable they actually are.

Which services we tested, and how

We included Blogger, WordPress.com, Typepad, Tumblr and Posterous in this survey. There are of course other services out there as well, but we chose to focus on these since it’s quite likely that if you’re currently on a blogging service, you’re on one of these five.

For each blogging service, we monitored the uptime of the homepage and four individual blogs, so we could see how the service as a whole performed. For the details, check out our “Methodology” section at the bottom of this post.

The tests were performed once a minute over a period of two months, October 15 – December 15. We used the Pingdom site monitoring service (of course), performing tests from multiple locations in North America and Europe.

Key findings

  • The reliability winner(s). The winner was without a doubt Google’s Blogger. The Blogger blogs didn’t have any downtime whatsoever during the two months we monitored them, followed by WordPress.com which had very little downtime. Typepad deserves an honorable mention here as well. Posterous had somewhat mixed results, but overall receives a passing grade. Tumblr was the only service in the test that truly failed.
  • Tumblr’s troubles. Tumblr has had a rough time with their stability lately, which is made abundantly clear by this survey. Most of the monitored blogs had very little downtime, but the Tumblr blogs all had a huge amount of downtime for such a short period of time. Some Tumblr blogs were down for a total of more than two days during the two-month period of this survey. Tumblr also had the single longest outage by far, where its blogs were unavailable for almost 24 hours on December 5-6.
  • Not all blogs are created equal, even within the same blogging service. Downtime can vary significantly between blogs on the same service, presumably depending on which servers the blogs are hosted on. It’s a similar situation to that of shared hosting, where you can end up on servers that perform worse than others for various reasons.

Blogging service downtime

The bars in the chart below represent the average downtime per blog over these two months, based on the four blogs we tested for each service.

Blogging service downtime

To dive deeper, please check out the individual sections below where we expand on the numbers for each blogging service.

Tumblr overview

  • Tumblr homepage uptime: 97.72%
  • Average Tumblr blog uptime: 96.81%

We’ll be writing a bit more about Tumblr than about the other services for the simple reason that more of note happened. The rather extreme results are worth a closer look.

Tumblr downtime

The single longest outage was identical on all four blogs, a full 23 hours and 44 minutes of downtime that started late on the 5th of December. The Tumblr homepage was also affected, but was “only” down for 22 hours and 16 minutes. This huge outage was according to Tumblr caused by a database cluster failing during maintenance.

However, it should be noted that Tumblr’s problems haven’t just been a few big outages, but a large number of smaller ones. The Tumblr blogs we monitored had an average of more than 300 outages during these two months, some very brief, indicating an ongoing performance issue with the service.

We feel for Tumblr, because it’s quite likely that they’ve had issues scaling the service in face of its growing popularity. Tumblr currently has more than 11 million blogs, and they’ve stated that traffic to the service is increasing with more than 500 million page views each month.

This rapid growth is bound to be a factor in the downtime we’ve seen. The important thing now is how Tumblr will handle this going forward. They are no doubt working hard on increasing the capacity of their infrastructure.

Posterous overview

  • Posterous homepage uptime: 99.95%
  • Average Posterous blog uptime: 99.86%

The results for Posterous were a bit mixed, as you’ll see below, and we’ll explain what we could see.

Posterous downtime

No single outage exceeded 20 minutes.

We noticed something with Posterous that we didn’t see with any of the other blogging services, and that is that for some reason the external, custom domain names that pointed to Posterous blogs were slower and occasionally timed out, which effectively resulted in more downtime. (Blogs 3 and 4 on each service use custom domain names instead of subdomains, i.e. www.example.com instead of example.posterous.com. See why under “Methodology at the bottom of this post.).

First we thought that maybe these custom domain names had DNS issues, in which case we would have removed any bad results caused by that since it wouldn’t have been fair to Posterous. However, the DNS resolution itself wasn’t slow, and what seemed to be causing the slowness was as far as we could see a series of redirects after getting to Posterous. It could be a coincidence, but Posterous might want to look into this just in case. (Posterous is welcome to contact us for more information, we’d help as much as we can.)

WordPress.com overview

  • WordPress.com homepage uptime: 99.98%
  • Average WordPress.com blog uptime: 99.99%

Since nothing of note happened (which is a good thing!) we haven’t included much analysis on this one.

Wordpress.com downtime

No single outage exceeded 4 minutes.

Typepad overview

  • Typepad homepage uptime: 99.99%
  • Average Typepad blog uptime: 99.98%

Same thing here as with WordPress.com, things were stable and calm, which is good for Typepad.

Typepad downtime

No single outage exceeded 6 minutes.

Blogger overview

  • Blogger homepage uptime: 100.00%
  • Average Blogger blog uptime: 100.00%

Since Blogger was the only service with zero downtime overall, we skipped the chart here. We hope you don’t mind. It simply wouldn’t have been very interesting.

Conclusion and final words

In terms of keeping blogs up and available, the winners’ stand looks like this:

  1. Blogger
  2. WordPress.com
  3. Typepad
  4. Posterous
  5. Tumblr

The race was very close between the top three, but we should congratulate Google for the flawless uptime of Blogger during the survey.

As for Tumblr, we think that they are very aware of their current site issues, and it’s quite possible that if we make a similar survey a few months from now things might fall out very differently. Regardless, we wish them the best of luck with this.

And finally, you might wonder what kind of uptime numbers we consider acceptable for a blogging service. We think that 99.9% uptime is an acceptable goal. It’s doable from the service provider’s point of view, and the user gets a blog that will not be down more than 43 minutes per month on average. It’s the nature of the game that uptime will vary over time, so some months will be better (or worse) than others.

Overall, with the obvious exception of Tumblr’s current predicament, these blogging services are all quite reliable. There’s of course more to choosing a blogging service than mere availability, but it’s one factor, and now you have some actual numbers so you don’t have to guess.


Methodology:

We monitored five websites for each blogging service: the homepage, and four individual blogs. The homepage was not included in any average.

Since people can put their blogs on either a subdomain to the service, or use their own domain name, we picked two representatives of each for each service. In the charts above, blog 1 and 2 for each service are on subdomains (e.g. example.tumblr.com), while 3 and 4 are on custom domain names (e.g. www.example.com). Since potential DNS issues with the custom domain names would be outside the control of the blogging services, we made sure to exclude any downtime caused by this.

This is what we count as “down”: If the blog loads so slowly we can’t load the HTML page within 30 seconds. If the server responds with an HTTP error code (5xx or 4xx). Or, of course, if the site is completely unreachable.

Monitoring was done from Pingdom’s 20+ monitoring locations spread over North America and Europe, with tests performed every minute. To avoid the risk of false positives due to local network issues, our monitoring system always performs an extra test from a second location before downtime is counted. The monitoring was done during October 15 – December 15, 2010.



45 comments
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Andy Borman
Andy Borman

Very useful and interesting research. Thank you!

Seotop
Seotop

Very useful and interesting research. Thank you!

Anu
Anu

wordpress has limitations, blogger allows full control. i have been using blogger since 3 years and found it the best one.

arikaka
arikaka

nice research, but i still think wordpress.com is the best hehe :p Also somewhat tumblr has unique features.

Rob Garretson
Rob Garretson

I don't quibble with your measure of availability – based on instances of page loads taking longer than 30 seconds – but there is some interesting research (http://bit.ly/cloudsleuth)that suggests that a significant percentage of website visitors (nearly one third) will abandon the site and go elsewhere if page they’re seeking takes more than six seconds to load. I’m guessing that blog readers have more patience, but I suspect for many, it's nowhere near 30 seconds worth. Rob Garretson Gaithersburg, MD http://bit.ly/garretsonr

Sjoerd
Sjoerd

Biggest is usually best.

ITManx Ltd
ITManx Ltd

Uptime is something that should be taken very seriously by anyone producing online content. You may think that one whole day over a year is not a lot on the grand scheme of things, but if your competition keeps it to just 1 hour then you will lose business or traffic to your rivals.

Naya
Naya

I'm also using Blogger more because Wordpress has limits (for the free option). And I'm glad that Blogger added Amazon to its features. For those who like better Blogger designs, there are a lot of free Blogger themes online that one can put on the design HTML block on Blogger, and also a lot of tips on how to install these themes. I wish Michael Dadona describes the blog that was deleted by Blogger, so we can learn from it. He said in his comments: "My above paragraphs merely talking for why I love much Blogger.com although one of my blogs has been deleted by the Blogger Team." Thanks. Happy new year to you and all others.

nimo23
nimo23

The Author never mention if the wordpress there was the Wordpress.com / Wordpress.org.Why? Because they are different for me. But Blogger.com is deserving becuase I love it! Blogger.com is the most userfriendly and free platform.

Brandon
Brandon

@Kawohi - it may not be fair to include the 4-chan attacks on Tumblr, however, it is completely fair and legitimate to include the 24-hour downtime. Downtime is downtime. It was a failed database cluster. That is legitimate (and significant) downtime. I see no reason it shouldn't be included. Pity isn't a factor in analysis of downtime.

sonu
sonu

Blogger is undoubtedly the best free online blogging service. Long live blogger!

WideEyed
WideEyed

Why label your graphs Tumble downtime when in fact they graph Tumbler uptime?

Smokey Ardisson
Smokey Ardisson

One thing that I’ve noticed over the past few months is that several of the blogspot blogs I read have “disappeared” for a few days at a time—that is, they show a page similar to (or the same as; I’m not sure) the page shown when a user deletes their blog or when Google closes down a blog—before returning a few days later as if nothing happened. I’m not sure how widespread these incidents were, but I saw them enough times to wonder what was going on. And, while these disappearances are not “downtime” in the traditional sense (nor in the sense you’re measuring), having your blog mysteriously inaccessible due to some apparent mix-up/mis-configuration on the service’s end is still downtime of some sort if it happens to you. ;-)

Jon Dokulil
Jon Dokulil

The timing really sucks for Tumblr, that's for sure. However, it hardly seems like throwing out their major downtime would somehow make it "fair". "Tumblr is a super stable blogging platform, as long as you ignore all the times it's down" hardly seems fair. Their major outage was terrible, but who's to say it isn't going to happen again soon? Twitter has had major growing pains... Tumblr may be no different.

Daniele Villa
Daniele Villa

I think it's ridiculous publishing any article about uptime with a two months timescale. TWO months? Come on. Move that slider to cover the last one or two years, and then let's talk about uptime. Anything less than that doesn't deserve any consideration. It's a shame this article got so much publicized and so many people are taking it as granted given the shallow depth of its analysis. Mind that I'm not talking about the result: maybe in the end the results are going to be just the same. But today we don't know, YOU don't know: you shouldn't have written this post. Also, if you really wanted to post some kind of intermediate results, you could have done that as well, fine, but without trying to frame the explanation as a research like you did here, and with such a shameless title.

David
David

Re: Maybe because Drupal is a CMS/framework, not a hosted blogging service. Actually - yes Drupal is a CMS/framework, and it is also a hosted site/blog service now too. Google "Drupal Gardens", which is a service by Acquia (the company by the creator of Drupal). Roughly, Drupal Gardens is to Drupal as WordPress.com is to WordPress.

Woonkiat
Woonkiat

I use both word press and blogger for my blog and I find both relaible. As for the rest have not tried them yet! But your comparison is good knowledge to learn. Please continue to do if possible.

Kawohi
Kawohi

Not fair for Tumblr. Do this again after the 4Chan attacks and that 24-hour delay.

@Keith Dsouza
@Keith Dsouza

Maybe because Drupal is a CMS/framework, not a hosted blogging service.

Awais Irshad
Awais Irshad

I have used Blogger, Wordpress and Tumblr. All of them have their own best parts. It depends how one use them. I am using Tumblr and found it very nice and good in search engine too.

Jack..
Jack..

I think blogger is the best.I have used wordpress before, but you can't do much unlees you have money.Blogger supports all features but little knowledge on coding is necessary to handle them well, which is quite easy for me.

Delton
Delton

I have used both Blogger and Wordpress and have found them both to be very stable. I find that I like Wordpress more as I find it much easier and friendly.

a blogger
a blogger

Posterous has a BIG problem you didn't mention, which is that their online posting page often loses your post when you press the update button. Also, if you run a spell check in their online editor on the mac while using Safari it hangs Safari. There's nothing worse that working away on a long blog post and then having the blog service lose all of that work when you press save. Posterous also has another recent problem where changes you make to the text of a blog post after you post that post don't necessarily update when you go to read the post in it's normal blog display unless you log out of posterous and then log back in. I've never had any problems like this when using Tumblr or Blogger. So in your evaluations, you should also look at issues like stability of the platform for composing a blog post, can you actually successfully finish a long blog post without losing all of your work and having to start over again. Posterous is terrible at this right now.

Keith Dsouza
Keith Dsouza

Any reasons for leaving Drupal out of this list for testing?

Thomas @ Run Dog Run
Thomas @ Run Dog Run

I found it really surprising that blogger beat out wordpress, seeing as wordpress is supposed to be the blog God. But overall not too bad except for the tumblr event. I believe that up time has definitely imrpoved over the past couple of years.

Michael Dadona
Michael Dadona

I seconded Blogger.com (blogspot) and support it because it's very user friendly. Its rich text components for blog composing really a simple touch one. In addition, the new photo uploading application make thing easy as there are many options; upload from Computer, Picasa Web Album, and Web URL The next best thing is "Stats" tab recently added as a quick way to analyze blog visitors' profiling and trending. An alternative to Google Analytics. Finally, Blogger.com provides "Reading List" pan as a good section for a blog owner to view for; Blog I'm following, Blogger Buzz, and Blogs of Note. Very interestingly, the "Other stuff" section much helps a blog owner to quickly refer to; Mobile Devices, Tools and Resources, AND Help Resources. My above paragraphs merely talking for why I love much Blogger.com although one of my blogs has been deleted by the Blogger Team.

BitShare
BitShare

Thank you so much for posting this. Ironically, I was checking online the other day for information on up/down time for these very sites. It's like you read my mind. I was thinking of using Blogger, but I hear it's outdated. Tumblr is great, but the down time is unacceptable. It's powerful and flexible, just too much down time. Wordpress, you get pay walled for extra stuff. And Posterous, I have yet to check out, but seems like I should! Thanks.

BlueGreenSEO
BlueGreenSEO

It's a pity you chose this time to run this comparison. It's not really a fair test seeing as this is Tumblr's first major downtime. If you'd ran the test a couple of months earlier it'd be a completely different picture. Having said that I'm sure you'll come back to retest this next year with hopefully different results :) Reliability is one thing free blogging services need in order to compete. I'm not sure if Tumblr lost many bloggers during this time but if so I doubt they went to a paid service.

Sylvia
Sylvia

It would have been interesting to see the results for soup.io as well.

Fatih Cüce
Fatih Cüce

I am using blogspot since two years. Blogger always is best blog system for me.. Thank you for this test..

Les Stroud
Les Stroud

What about squarespace? They are a pretty big blog host now. How do they fare?

Doreen Cross
Doreen Cross

Thank you to the team at Blogger for a great 2010 blogging. Many friends made. no major problems. Great job Blogger. Merry Christmas.

shahroll photo
shahroll photo

Hello there, i used the blogspot for my blog. My website based (hosting) on blogspot, and whatu wrote is TRUE! never have downtime only once blogspot have the problem. Thanks for you view.. yours SH

Jonathan Nieto
Jonathan Nieto

As always Google doing the best apps, however I don't like the interface from Blogger. I prefer the one from WordPress. Thanks for the article it was very interesting. Regards!

Chris Grayson
Chris Grayson

I have tried them all, and I use SquareSpace myself. I don't have any affiliation with them, other than the fact that I use them for my own blog (my blog is named GigantiCo, btw). Other than Tumbler, the "downtime" rating are pretty much negligible, anyway. With that one exception, they all have 99%+ uptime. Beyond that you're really splitting fine hairs. So it's kind of a silly metric to use as the deciding factor for choosing your platform. If you had compared ease-of-use and content management interface, SquareSpace stomps everyone. Nothing even comes close. All other things being equal, easy of use (and price) are the only real distinguishing factors worth considering. Anyway, thanks for the article. -- cheers

Pingdom
Pingdom

@Chris Grayson: Regarding 99%+ uptime... 99% uptime means more than 7 hours of downtime per month, or more than 3 days and 15 hours of downtime in a year. That's not very good. Btw, if anyone is getting a bit nuts about translating between actual downtime to and from uptime percentages, we have a pretty neat cheat sheet you might like: http://royal.pingdom.com/royalfiles/pingdom_uptime_cheat_sheet.pdf

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