How to survive website downtimes

Website downtime can affect user confidence and user loyalty. It can also have a negative impact on your bottom line. What can you do to avoid downtimes and what should you do when your website is down?

What is downtime and what are the causes of downtime?

website monitoring will help you

A website is ‘down’ when it cannot be accessed by its users. This can happen for a variety of causes:

  • Planned downtime: Planned downtime happens when you update your server hardware or software. Usually, this doesn’t cause problems because you can do this when not many people access your site. Usually, short downtimes at 4 a.m. aren’t a problem.
  • Hardware failures: Hardware failures are the number one of cause for many downtimes. The air conditioning fails on a hot day, an excavator in your neighborhood damages an electric cable, etc.
  • Software failures: Software updates of some server components are not compatible with other components, patches do not work as expected, malware or viruses change the software, etc.
  • Human error or malicious users: Someone could accidentally delete important files on your server, an unskilled operator changes the server settings, hackers or malicious users damage your server configuration.
  • Disasters: Storms, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters damage your servers.

The four types of downtime

Website downtime can have many manifestations. All of them aren’t good for your business. There are hard downtimes, when your website cannot be accessed at all, and soft downtimes, when your website is very slow:

  • Hijacked page (hard downtime): Your website URLs have been hijacked and they display the content of another website and/or redirect to other URLs and malicious content.
  • HTTP error (hard downtime): Your website shows a “503 service unavailable” error message or another error message instead of the actual content of your site.
  • Dead page (hard downtime): Your website isn’t loading at all.
  • Slow page (soft downtime): Your website has a bad performance.

The negative effects of website downtime

Website downtimes are bad for your business.

  • Downtimes can cost a lot of money: Several years ago, Amazon.com was down for two hours. This single outage cost Amazon $3.48 million.
  • Downtimes affect customer satisfaction: If your website is down, people will buy the product elsewhere. If customers anticipate technical problems when they access your site, they probably won’t trust you to give you their money.
  • Search engine rankings: If your website is consistently down for a longer period of time, your search engine rankings will suffer dramatically.

Things that you should do before your website goes down

It is better to avoid long downtimes. Do the following when your website is up and running:

  • Backup your files: Make frequent backups of your website files and your databases.
  • Make sure that your domain name registration is up to date: Many websites are down because the owner forgot to renew the domain name registration. Set the domain name on auto-renew or buy the domain name for several years in advance.
  • Check your pages with the website audit tool: Check your website with the website audit tool in SEOprofiler to make sure that there are no technical errors that can cause problems in the near future.
  • Monitor your website: The Uptime Monitor tool in SEOprofiler informs you about website downtimes as they happen. That enables you to react quickly so that downtimes are kept to a minimum.

uptime monitor overview

What you should do when your website is down

If your website is down, do not panic. Do the following to solve the problem:

  • Confirm that your website is down: It might be your Internet connection. Check your site with the Uptime Monitor to make sure that there really is a problem.
  • Find the cause: Try to find out why the website is down. Is it a technical error, has your domain registration expired, is there a DNS problem?
  • Call your web host: Call your web host and ask them for help. Most hosts can solve downtime problems quickly.
  • Notify your users: Use your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to inform your users about the outage. Do not leave them in the dark.
  • Don’t panic: Most downtimes do not last long if you react quickly. Help your team to solve the problem and stay calm.

Website downtimes are bad for your business. Use the Uptime Monitor in SEOprofiler to make sure that you keep downtimes to a minimum. If you haven’t done it yet, create your SEOprofiler account now:

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Johannes Selbach

Johannes Selbach is the CEO of SEOprofiler. He blogs about search engine optimization and website marketing topics at "http://blog.seoprofiler.com".

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