When your website goes down, it is a big deal. You type in your domain and instead of seeing your beautiful site you are greeted with a blank screen. Your website is your asset, your virtual store, your sales point and so much more which you should be protecting. The truth is THAT every website crashes sooner or later because it is simply the nature of the business. It’s appealing to think that it won’t happen and that is exactly why it is important that you should have a contingency plan in case you face a website outage.
A website should be kept safe and secure because it is susceptible to viruses and attacks so let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of websites crashes:
1. Code errors
Sometimes while working on a website for its maintenance or updations a web code is accidently broken or messed with which leads the website to go crashing.
2. Virus attacks
Virus attacks can be in the form of bots or actual people trying to hack into your website. If your website has weak security then the hacker will find it easy to penetrate and will bring it down by deploying bots to search for vulnerabilities in your website.
3. Plugin/Extension errors
Plugin or extensions are a part of software that adds website content and functions that aren’t originally part of your website. The problem with plugins and extensions is that they are made by people you don’t know so if the creators fail to update the plugin then they might eventually give out.
More traffic the website gets better it is right? But, a sudden influx in traffic can crash your website easily. If you have a news or a post on your website goes viral then people will sprint to your site leading to the sudden rush of traffic. In such cases websites usually crash.
5. Domain error
Your domain may be of a few small words but it is one of the biggest parts of your website. Domain name is the address of your website and you cannot invite anyone over if you cannot provide them the address. Domains do expire without people realizing it so when you type in your domain name you might see your website has expired. Never let your domain expire, this is something which should never happen!
6. Hosting error
A lack of quality in website hosting is one of the main reasons for website downtime. You need a hosting service which best suits your business. For example, if your website is growing and has lot of incoming traffic but you have opted for a basic hosting plan then don’t be surprised if your website is locked up. You can choose a perfect hosting plan based on the size of your business. It is also important that your service provider shares with you all the data which can cause problems to your website in the near future.
Another type of website attack comes from hackers, where one constantly tries to break into your website. There may be various motives behind hacking your website like spamming, making use of your compute power, spread virus and much more. One of the easiest attacks on a website is called Distributed Denial of Server attack (DDoS) which means that the hacker overwhelms your website with traffic from all kinds of sources until your website crashes.
So what can be the right response before something like this happens to your website? You need to seek the right strategies and draw up a contingency plan. Here are few options I would suggest to include in your crash plan:
Performing daily backups is a good practice. Your website hosting provider is also responsible for majority of your backups, but you shouldn’t rely on this alone. You are more than capable to backup your entire website by going into website control panel and copying all your websites data and saving it in your internal system. Having a backup server can be a good infrastructure in your crash plan. In case your host site doesn’t offer backup option then you might want to create a backup website. It does not have the full functionality but it is purely static and directs traffic to your main site.
2. Uptime monitoring service
An uptime monitoring service won’t stop your website from going down but it will definitely let you know immediately before it happens. If any downtime endangers your business you need to include monitoring service in your crash plan. It is not always necessary that your hosting company is keeping a watch on your website and neither are you. So you need to include a monitoring service who will email you as soon as anything happens to your site, so that you know about it and resolve the issue as soon as possible.
3. Contact your Host
Always choose a host for your website who provides quick support and configuration options. Check your host’s backup procedures and ask them that how prepared they are to handle downtime of your website and resolve it quickly. Basically you need to figure out that exactly what kind of service you need and who can provide you the best service. You will not always get the services you want by a single provider but going with dual hosting options can be a really good move to ensure that your site isn’t crippled at a point of failure.
4. Communication Strategy
You should have a communication strategy in place, like a list which you will be referring to when you think something is going to go down. First point of contact will be your host company, then comes your web development emergency contacts and later your customers who should know about such situation. Try to inform them of how long you expect the downtime and keep them updated on this front. A smart move can be is to include a static customized page which will be displayed on your website when it is down instead of visitors welcomed with an error page. You can use social media to provide customers and clients up to date information and when things are expected to return to normal.
5. Pause campaigns
Keep an updated list of all the ads and campaigns you are running which sends visitors to your website. If your site is down and you have campaigns running, then you should figure out a way to turn that off. You are sending your visitors to a dead website if you don’t pause your campaigns and also you are just throwing money away.
6. Hardware failure
About 50% of all downtime is caused by hardware failure for all SMB’s. If you think your bases are covered with levels of redundancy, multiple power supplies and network controllers, you still can’t predict when a power outage will occur. What you can do is deploy an uninterrupted power supplywhich will constantly supply power to your server which is must to minimize your downtime. A UPS will also level the spikes and surges which can occur and harm the server. If your server experiences hardware crash then you might want to able to restore the data which was on your server to your new or repaired hardware as quickly as possible. By scheduling regular backups you can substantially decrease server downtime if a failure does happen.
Do Not Panic
Whenever your website crashes don’t think of it as the end of the world because it is just part of your business and was meant to happen sooner or later. Do not hide from your customers but rather work towards resolving the issue as quickly as possible. If you take proper precautions then you are already ahead of such incidents and ready with the crash plan.