In a highly competitive world, websites are vital for companies to interact with their customers.
However, they need to have more than just great content. They need to be available 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
It is important to ensure that your website is running smoothly without interruptions. Website downtime is more than frustrating. It can alienate customers, damage your company's reputation and ultimately lead to lost revenue.
Therefore, it is important to understand the reasons behind website downtime and how to avoid it. In the following article, we'll explain seven common causes of site outage and any troubleshooting steps you can take.
What is the meaning of Website Downtime?
Website downtime is when a website is inaccessible or not functioning properly for end users. This may mean that web pages cannot be loaded or functions required for the website are no longer working.
For example, if you are on a video streaming site and the controls have stopped working, this can be defined as website downtime.
In 2017, Amazon suffered an S3 cloud outage that lasted for several hours and affected a large number of companies that depend on Amazon’s cloud services. Everybody from Apple and Venmo to Slack, Trello, and many individual sites lost power too, according to NPR. Estimates from Data Center Knowledge put the total financial cost of the outage at over $150 million.
What is the meaning of Website Downtime?
There are several reasons why website downtime can occur, but there are steps you can take to prevent them. This can be done by minimizing the risk or solving the problem at its core.
Here are 5 common causes of site outages and how to troubleshoot them.
1. Server Maintenance
Lack of maintenance can lead to significant problems and website downtime. If you don't check your website's infrastructure, you may miss important issues that lead to unexpected outages.
To avoid this, make sure all hardware and software are regularly maintained. When hardware becomes obsolete, it needs to be cleaned and replaced. Software such as CMSs and plugins need to be updated frequently.
This is for more than functionality. New updates provide security and clean hardware prevents sudden failures.
It may sound simple, but don't procrastinate. If you need your website to run 24/7, scheduling downtime to maintain it can be frustrating, but it's crucial to avoid more costly problems. When prioritizing tasks, put this at the top of your list.
2. Cyber Attacks
DDoS, or distributed denial of service attacks, happens when hackers flood a website or online service with massive traffic to render it unusable. Increased traffic volume consumes server bandwidth and resources, leading to overload.
But you may not be the target. A single server can host multiple websites. When a website is targeted, the server crashes and all hosted sites experience downtime.
Therefore, using private or cloud servers is a simple solution to avoid becoming an unwilling victim. Investing in quality hosting services and firewalls will likewise reduce risks to your business.
Not every web server crashes maliciously. A sudden influx of customers can cause website downtime if your web server doesn't have the resources to deal with it. Prevent this by regularly performing load tests to check your server capacity.
3. Hardware Failure
Websites are hosted on servers that are physical products and therefore prone to failure.
Servers are an essential part of your website infrastructure. This is where your website is located, and any downtime can cause an outage.
However, you cannot predict when or how a server will fail. You can analyze the servers for problems, but sudden problems are always possible. One reason is old hardware.
The speed of technological advances means that companies invest in small upgrades rather than replacing entire servers to save costs. Switching servers can be annoying with long periods of downtime, but this is often necessary to deal with the modern web.
To prevent hardware failures from causing your downtime, upgrade when your server is struggling to keep up. Make sure you or your hosting providers have backup servers and equipment to ensure your website continues to work even if the dedicated server fails.
4. New Releases to Your Website
Regular website updates are important for minimizing bugs and reducing security vulnerabilities, but they can also cause bugs.
Regular updates (rather than waiting a long time for an update and then installing too many things at once) can make it easier to detect and fix bugs.
5. DNS Issues
A domain name server (DNS) maps a domain name to an IP address and is critical to the uptime of the website. Minor DNS-related issues, such as a misspelled nameserver, can prevent a website from loading even if the remaining infrastructure is working perfectly.
If you are experiencing frequent DNS problems, you should consider upgrading your DNS hosting service. Many domain registrars and web hosts include basic DNS hosting in their standard plans.
Upgrading to premium DNS hosting gives you enhanced security features, faster servers, control over your DNS settings and more. It will also provide extra protection against future interruptions.
Don’t wait until your website suffers an outage. Take proactive steps to stop this from occurring in the first place.