Here’s a shocking fact. There are 1.5 billion websites in existence today. But only around 200 million of them are alive and kicking. This means that on any given day, a major chunk of websites is down for many hours. In fact, on average, websites are down for 3 hours per month, due to problems experienced by web hosts.
The number of sites that go down on a day, depends on whether the issue is with the website alone or the server. If entire servers go down, then all the websites it hosts will be down too. In fact, this is what happened recently when the world experienced Facebook down. Not only was Facebook the only app to be inoperative. But so were WhatsApp and Instagram.
On October 4th, 2021, all three tech platforms experienced a massive internet outage and were down for a staggering 6 hours. In this article, we’ll discuss why servers and websites go down and how companies can prevent this from happening.
Top 5 reasons your website or server is down
· Your website host is not that great
A website host’s technical capabilities and soundness can determine how vulnerable their servers are to crashing and downtime. If your website host I technologically weak or hasn’t opted for superior server protection, then your websites may go down more often.
· The website or server is overworked and overloaded
Website traffic can cause your website to go down. This is because every website is designed to handle a specific amount of traffic. If the traffic is too heavy, your website will be unable to handle the traffic requests coming in.
On a server level, some websites may go down if their neighbor’s website (i.e., the one sharing server space) goes down.
· There’s been a DDoS attack
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack is a deliberate and malicious attack by cybercriminals to overwhelm chosen servers or websites with immense traffic. An unprecedented amount of traffic is directed to the server or website, with the intent of making it crash and go down for a long time.
Research shows that during covid19, DDoS attacks increased in 2020, by 12% compared to 2019.
· You have software or hardware problems
Sometimes, a simple power outage at the server level can cause websites to go down. Or if the utility provider has an outage or operational issue, then entire servers may go down.
The server’s hardware component may be damaged due to numerous reasons such as a natural calamity or damage during transport. This could lead to downtime too.
· Coder/developer errors
To err is human and sometimes, developers, coders, and server administrators can unknowingly make mistakes which can lead to servers and websites going down. For example, they may code their software incorrectly or they may make DNS errors. Or, they may not have updated their software or installed incompatible plugins and integrations that can overwhelm websites, causing them to go down.
Best practices to stop your websites or servers from going down
The good news is that companies can protect themselves to prevent websites and servers from going down. Some things you can do are:
· Closely monitor uptime
There are certain websites that can help you keep track of your uptime and downtime. These include updown.io, Uptime, StatusCake, and ManageWP. Use them to monitor how frequently your site goes down. Additionally, keep an eye on related websites and popular websites to check if or when they go down. This way, you can implement any contingency plan before a possible crash of your site. Also, this type of close monitoring can help you keep your customers and visitors informed about uptimes and downtimes, ensuring they aren’t caught off-guard.
· Have a team to fix any hardware or software issues
Although human errors can cause a lot of trouble for companies, they can be fixed. You should set up a specialized team, whose job it is to monitor the performance of servers and websites to identify any issues and fix them. Additionally, strengthening your quality control process before allowing any site to go live and updating servers every few months, can help prevent downtime.
· Implement cybersecurity features that prevent malicious attacks
First off, learn to recognize the signs that you may be under attack. Very slow connectivity, regular mini crashes, and site malfunction indicate a potential DDoS attack.
Tools such as firewalls, anti-spam, VPN, content filtering, and access management can reduce your risk of a DDoS attack. You can also consider going completely on the cloud, because of the security it offers. Additionally, you should perform a Network Vulnerability Assessment every few weeks, so you can identify any security vulnerabilities in your network.
· Choose a website host who you can rely on
This is one of the most important practices to prevent your server or site from going down. Check the reviews on Google, Linked In, and Yelp. Ask the host for examples of previous clients, challenges faced, and what solutions they implemented. Consult fellow businesses for their recommendations of a good business host.
· Keep backing up data
It’s super important to always have a robust data backup system. You never know when your site may crash and how long it may be out of operation. If the WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook downtime have taught us anything, servers and websites can go down severely, leading to the risk of lost data. By backing everything up, you always have the option of easily migrating your site onto another host and server, which is better protected.