What is website downtime and why should you take it seriously?

 

What is a website downtime?

When a website is inaccessible completely or is unable to perform its primary task for its users, then the site is said to be down. This period of the outage is referred to as the website downtime.

Why should you take website downtime seriously?

Website downtime is a serious threat to businesses today. Downtime is detrimental to a company as it leads to customer dissatisfaction, tarnished brand’s image, drop in search engine ranking  and loss of potential business and clients, etc because your website is the face of your brand and in most cases it is the first and the most important touchpoint in the journey of your customer with your company. So, your website being always available for customers should be your business’ topmost priority.

Top 4  reasons why your website is down

 

 

1. Server Overload

If your website is hosted on a shared server by your host, whenever there is a huge surge either to your site, your host might suspend or take your site off to protect other sites. Similarly, if other sites on the server face heavy traffic, due to a bad neighbor effect, it could affect your site’s availability as well. This unexpected rush in web traffic could crash the site or disable most functionalities of your site if the host is incapable of handling it. The other reason could be your server host might be updating their system which requires them to take your site off for a short period.

 

 

2. Malicious cyber attack (DDoS)

You need to be watchful of curious incidents of a sudden spike in traffic. This unusual amount of traffic to your site could be an attempt by hackers or malware to cause a major outage. Attempt to DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack your site in which a network of systems send a high volume of fake traffic is done only to take the site down. So, if the security protocols of the site are not up, the site is highly vulnerable to attacks.

 

 

3. Hardware and software issues

Surprisingly power failure still tops the list of reasons that cause major outages across the world. In 2010 Amazon attributed a major outage to a hardware failure. Absence of periodical hardware maintenance and service program could result in an unexpected failure that will lead to downtime. On the software front, if older and incompatible versions of WordPress plugins and themes are in place, it could cause trouble to the users in accessing your site.

 

 

Miscellaneous Causes

According to a study, more than 40% of outage happens due to human errors such as

  • Accidentally unplugging a cord while working with a server
  •  Improper and rough handling of servers 
  • Carelessness or improper code review 

Amazon suffered downtime for several hours in 2017 when an employee executed code with a minor error that took a large set of servers off causing AWS services inaccessible for three hours. Besides all these, uncontrollable factors such as natural calamities can also affect your services to high magnitude.

How  to prevent website downtime?

Top 4 ways to prevent your website from going down

 

1. Employ a CDN

Content Delivery Networks are a layer between a site’s server and its users that enhances the speed and ease of accessing the site. CDN employs a network of caching servers at different locations across the world which keeps storing a cached version of a site’s content and delivers it quickly to users in immediate proximity. This way, CDN acts as a buffer that can continue providing content to your users even when your website is down. Apart from being a handy solution for short outages, CDN can also prevent malicious bots from entering your site and also help filter your traffic by analyzing the IP addresses.

 

2. Choose a reliable host

Website monitoring services continuously monitor your site and alerts you if it is down. Deploying website monitoring service is  not a way to prevent website outage but a way to be the first one to be informed about your site’s downtime. Pick a website monitoring software that checks your site in intervals as short as possible and alerts you preferably via multiple channels. Put out a simple,uncluttered status page that your users can land on to understand what is going on. Ideally you should be the first one to announce the world before your users start asking you ‘is it down?’ all over social media. When your site goes down,your users should be kept in the communication loop with the help of status page and your social media handles until the issue is resolved.

 

3. Get a Website Monitoring Service

The host you choose for the website matters the most to prevent website downtime. The hosting service provider should be able to handle the high traffic volume. You cannot risk your service by choosing a low-quality host for a cheaper price when you run a business that is completely online and expects huge traffic. Trust your site with a service provider who guarantees you high uptime in the service level agreement. Most hosting service providers promise above 99.9% uptime to their customers today. Select the one that best suits your requirements and your budget.

 

4. Backup your data

Frequent data backup should be a practice in your business because despite all the proactive measures, your site is still prone to downtime. So it is important to keep a backup and store the data locally and in cloud if possible. Many hosting providers offer tools to back up site’s data. Backup hosting services provide an extra layer of protection at the time of crisis. So,setting up a secondary hosting account with a different provider is recommended as they store your data on a different server. Minor issues like your domain expiry could also lead to outage sometimes which can be solved by setting your domain to auto-renewal or by purchasing it for long periods.