Imagine this: You live in a world where storefronts aren’t a guaranteed commodity. Sure, you have a store full of goods. And you’re paying rent to the landlord. But periodically and unexplainably the store just disappears.
It might be minutes, it might be hours. But anybody who was inside is suddenly standing on the street in bewilderment among more bewildered people who were about to enter the store.
It sounds like a weird dream or a parallel universe, but it’s just the internet.
Downtime is the scourge of the internet (right up there with all kinds of cyber attacks and malware). The cost of downtime is enormous.
A single hour of downtime costs 98% of businesses $100,000. The largest organizations could see $1-5 million in lost revenue.
But even $100,000 is not a sum to trifle with.
Downtime is definitely something you should avoid at all costs. But how can someone run a business online and not experience downtime?
Scroll onward, friend, for I have a lot of things to tell you about avoiding downtime.
1. Why The Hay Do Websites Crash?
There is a host of reasons why a website will crash. It could be a server problem, a code problem, a terrorist problem, a criminal problem.
What is for certain, no website is safe. Even Google goes down sometimes.
Because machines are made by humans. And nothing humans create is perfect. So far we haven’t created self-repairing computers despite all attempts (RIP self-repairing computer).
In essence, computers break down. And even the most complex computer network will need repairs at some point.
While cloud technology and copied files across multiple servers have mitigated this problem somewhat, we still see websites go down.
Not only do machines break down, humans make mistakes. Side note: this is why I’m in favor of self-driving cars.
Incredible people write code for the internet. Something I really don’t have the patience for.
But those people (I know a lot of them) aren’t perfect either. And they will make mistakes in their code.
Sometimes, you don’t have to take down a website to fix these things. But other times, the code is part of the underlying processes running a server. In those cases, you have to take down the whole server to fix the problem.
There will also be times when a problem doesn’t get flagged. These can be detrimental if let fester for too long.
So, TL;DR? Humans aren’t perfect, therefore the internet isn’t perfect. Websites crash sometimes.
2. Wait? Did My Website Just Crash?
The first thing to do is make sure it isn’t just you.
But sometimes, what seems like a crash is just a user-end error. Check if it’s your browser by using a different browser. Press Shift while clicking on the refresh button to be sure you’re not seeing a cached version.
Try other sites to make sure it’s not your internet connection. These may seem like common sense things, but in panicky moments common sense can disappear entirely.
Damage Control Time
If it isn’t you, begin damage control. Your website crashed. Don’t panic.
If you have APIs installed, you might be able to go back and find out for how long. If not, you may not know.
Either way, you need to contact all your customers and let them know you still exist. Create a simple email to send out to everyone who might use your site.
Let them know about the outage and that you’re still there for them. Apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused.
You should use social media as well. Get the word out as fast as you can so the situation can be remedied soon.
Get ahold of your hosting provider. They may have a clue what’s going on at their level. Make sure you’ve kept good on your hosting payments. The downed site could be your own fault (hopefully not).
Don’t let your hosting service get away with dawdling. They should have an estimate on when the server will be up and running again. If not, find another hosting service.
Lastly, be sure to pause all your online advertising.
Your PPC campaigns and ads are inbound links. If you’ve been successful in your advertising campaigns, you will have traffic coming from these links.
You don’t want your good name tarnished by allowing traffic to a broken site.
3. Ok, So How Do I Stop It From Happening Again?
There are a few things you can do to make a crash less likely.
Get A Great WordPress Hosting Service
That’s one heck of a commendation.
But what factors should you look for in a hosting service to ensure you rarely experience a crash or any kind of downtime?
You want to know how fast it goes. And speed will determine if people stay on your site or bounce out.
Not only will slow hosting possibly deter customers, it will tank your SERPs as well. Google isn’t very forgiving with slow websites.
All The Features
You want the best APIs and email accounts and forwarding services available. You should have top access to your server as well.
This is probably the most important aspect. You want to know that your host has a verifiably secure system. This will prevent attacks from taking down your site.
A content distribution network uses the cloud to cache and delivers your site to customers. It’s meant to prevent a crash due to large traffic volume.
It boosts your website’s speed. Your visitors will be able to quickly access your content no matter where they are in the world.
Backup Hosting Services
In case of a crash, you need a backup. And a backup hosting service will serve perfectly. That is, as long as you’re always transferring backups to the backup server.
This should be a different service just in case the primary servers go down.
And be sure the backup server is in a different location. With the prevalence of natural disasters and wars, you never know if your server will even exist tomorrow.
Conclusion: It Happens
You’re most likely going to experience a tiny bit of downtime at some point. It’s best to prepare and hope for the best.
Otherwise, if you’re caught with it down, you won’t be able to perform. And we all know what happens in those cases.
Have you had trouble keeping your…website up? Let me know how you handled it in the comments below.