Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there a way to have a holding page saying something along the lines of "The site is down don't panic" - just a static html page, nothing fancy, when apache is restarted or goes down?

If it is possible how would I go about doing it? Would it require a separate web server running which kicks in once apache goes down.

Any ideas or links to help out would be greatly appreciated!

share|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The "correct" answer is that you should have a cluster with automated failover for unplanned outages, and shift your DNS to a new server for planned outages... But as you probably have noticed that is not always an option.

When I need a truly minimal web server to show offline messages and the like I usually use netcat:

while true; do nc -l -p 80 -q 1 < offline.html; done

It gets the job done with a minimum of fuzz and saves me from having to install additional software on the server. Just ctrl-c the script when you are done.

You could probably set it up start when apache goes down, but I done see the need. Random outages of apache are pretty much unknown in my environment.

share|improve this answer
Random outages of apache were previously unknown to us too, it's only in the past 2weeks that we've been seeing the load spike apparently randomly. This is more of a safeguard until we find the root cause. – m4rc Jan 11 '11 at 11:20
+1 for netcat. Doesn't that offline.html file have to contain the HTTP response headers, too, though? – SmallClanger Jan 11 '11 at 12:08
I think that I will use this approach as a temporary solution and long term probably go with nginx as a reverse proxy like vartec suggests – m4rc Jan 11 '11 at 14:07
@SmallClanger Yes, you have to start the file with something like "HTTP/1.0 200 OK" to make browsers happy. – pehrs Jan 11 '11 at 18:03
I tried that, but it didnt work. I created offline.html, stopped apache, then I started while true; do nc -l -p 80 -q 1 < offline.html; done as root and then called http://localhost but there was no page shown – rubo77 Nov 2 '12 at 10:11

The first thing I would like to ask is what kind of websites are you hosting? If its a small personal or corporate website that doesn't have many visitors, then don't worry about a little bot of downtime, or get a reliable hosting provider.

If you would really like to have a page then you could use a reverse proxy server to redirect the user while the web server is down.

Hope that helps, RayQuang

share|improve this answer
There is a corporate site on there and a couple of other smaller sites. The main site gets around 90K visitors a month. – m4rc Jan 11 '11 at 11:10
Ok, In that case you would probably like to get a second server running with a reverse squid, and possibly a backup web server that you could redirect to in case the main one fails. – RayQuang Jan 11 '11 at 11:45

I'd suggest using reverse proxy, for example NgniX. Then on Apache being down, you'd get 502 or 504 error, which you can handle with you custom error page.

share|improve this answer

it might be possible if you have an upstream cache (squid or similar) that can return a page while the server is restarting.

it would be a custom 10060 error page (or however squid references them)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.