This is a guest post by RealVNC, a leading provider of remote access software for desktop and mobile devices. Learn more on their website.
With commerce increasingly going online, your website is the face of your business. It needs to be engaging and informative, but it also needs to be accessible!
For any website owner, the thought of their site going down and being unavailable is terrifying. Your website should be available to current and potential customers 24/7. If they are met with a website that is unavailable, they will inevitably be left frustrated. In this situation, they will also be more likely to seek out your competitor’s site.
Clearly, website downtime is something that all businesses want to avoid. There are many reasons that your website could go down, which we will explore in this article. More importantly, we will discuss the steps you can take to prevent website downtime and ensure your website is accessible.
What is Website Downtime?
Website downtime is when a website is unavailable or takes a long time to load or complete a task. You can inform customers about any necessary scheduled downtime, such as carrying out essential maintenance or updating your site.
However, unscheduled or unexpected downtime can quickly become disastrous for your business. Sluggish load times or broken links can lead to frustrated customers, damaged brand reputation, and unrealized revenue when customers decide to go elsewhere.
Research has shown that businesses with even slow-loading pages leave a negative impression on 45% of customers. With every minute of website downtime, your business is potentially losing out on revenue and driving customers into the arms of competitors. To ensure your website is functioning and successful, you first need to understand the causes of website downtime and how to prevent it.
What Causes Website Downtime?
There are many reasons that your website could go down. Here, we will briefly explore some of the most common reasons for website downtime.
Too Much Traffic
Obviously, you want as many visitors to your site as possible, but unfortunately, an unusually large amount of traffic on your website can cause problems and even a full site crash. This most often happens because of a new product launch, a news story, or a trending social media campaign.
As part of your social media marketing strategy, you may be aiming to “go viral” and flood your website with visitors. But before you do, make sure your website can handle it.
A sudden increase in site visitors isn’t always a good thing. Unfortunately, proxy traffic and bad bots could be the cause. This is when your site is under attack, and this slows your site down significantly or could even cause it to go offline completely. You might have the best security plugins, but some cyberattacks may slip through without a comprehensive solution.
The same can be said for a hacking attempt or a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS is a deliberate attempt to overwhelm a web page with traffic and compromise the normal running of the site. These attacks slow down your site, making it more difficult for genuine visitors to access your site and services and have a good experience.
Low-Quality Website Host
Just as your online telephone service provides you with a reliable way to connect with your customers and clients, your web host ensures your website is available online at any time. Think of it as another means to connect with your customers.
When choosing a website host, it can be tempting to go for a cheap option. However, businesses need to consider the big picture here. Yes, a cheaper website host will keep your costs down, but a low-quality host is one of the most common reasons for website downtime. There is no point in investing time and energy into your website design or web page CTAs (calls-to-action) if your host can’t handle it.
Third-Party Integrations and Plugins
Your website is likely made up of multiple third-party integrations and plugins. These help to enhance the user experience and ensure your site runs effectively.
However, this means that your site is loading data from multiple sources and servers, which can lead to momentary pauses. If your site relies on multiple data sources, it may slow down the user experience. If your site can’t handle the load, serious problems can occur, and you may end up with your site going down completely.
6 Essential Tips for Preventing Website Downtime
Now you understand some of the most common reasons for website downtime, it’s essential to discover the best ways to prevent it. Read on for six essential tips for preventing website downtime.
1. Choose a Quality Website Host
Do your research and choose a quality host that meets the needs of your business and your website. Choose a host with a reliable speed, modern infrastructure, and the ability to handle the amount of traffic you expect.
You should also consider the help and support on offer. When problems arise and you experience downtime, what support will your host provide you to get your website back online? Many organizations, such as RealVNC, offer quality remote support—consider if this is something you are looking for.
You may think a cheaper host will be good for your profits, but if your host is unreliable and therefore impacts your site’s performance and uptime, you will certainly pay for it in the long run.
2. Invest in Proper Security Measures
As we discovered earlier, cyberattacks are a common reason for website downtime. Naturally, it makes sense that investing in proper security measures can help prevent your website from falling victim to these attacks. Businesses from all industries need to ensure they follow appropriate security measures, whether it be protecting online courses or protecting sensitive data.
Don’t underestimate the importance of taking even the most basic precautions, like using strong passwords, updating plugins, and running the latest versions of your software.
What’s more, investing in the best security software and a good quality firewall can prevent bad traffic from getting to your site in the first place. Don’t leave anything to chance, and protect your site from potential cyberattacks as a priority.
3. Carry Out Routine Maintenance
As we touched on earlier, it may sometimes be necessary for your site to have some planned downtime. This is very different from unplanned or unscheduled downtime, as it has a purpose and is necessary for building and sustaining a successful website.
Carrying out routine maintenance might include software updates or replacing outdated hardware. It could also be necessary for a large website redesign or product launch. Whatever the case, scheduling periods of website downtime can actually prevent unwanted downtime as you keep your website up to date and ensure optimal performance and reliability.
When planning for your scheduled site maintenance, choose an appropriate time when your site visitors may be lower. You should also create a downtime page that informs visitors of what is happening and why. When creating your downtime page, you should review picture options to ensure it is engaging but still provides useful information for your visitors.
You can also utilize social media at these times to ensure your customers can still engage with you during your site maintenance periods.
4. Choose Your Third-Party Providers Carefully
When choosing your third-party services, analyze their suitability for your site. Firstly, a theme or plugin needs to be compatible with your web host. Secondly, choosing a reliable provider means glitches and errors are less likely.
However, even the most reliable third-party plugins can cause problems when they are updated. Keep on top of this by checking your site after updates to ensure you can troubleshoot any issues before visitors discover a problem.
It’s important to understand the benefits and limitations before making your choice. Use extensions and plugins from reliable sources, or even consider receding your dependence on them at all to ensure your website runs smoothly.
If you have staff working remotely, invest in quality solutions. For example, if they need remote access to any devices, it’s worth researching VNC vs remote desktop. Any cloud software you choose should have advanced security features that prevent cyberattacks from affecting your website.
5. Renew Your Domain Name on Time
It may sound simple, but forgetting to renew your domain name registration is more common than you might think. Most domain name providers will ask you to pay for your domain name on a yearly basis.
You may want to consider setting up auto-renewal because if your domain name registration expires, your website will go offline. If this happens, there is no guarantee that you will be able to repurchase your chosen domain name, and this can lead to disastrous consequences. You may find yourself back searching “buy domain name UK” to get your site up and running again.
6. Monitor Your Website Performance
Gathering data on your website performance can be hugely valuable when it comes to preventing website downtime. Checking real-time server performance and metrics such as visitor numbers and website speed can give you valuable insights to help prevent downtime.
One way to do this is to test your server with a load testing process. This tests how your site will perform with various amounts of pressure. You can also use website monitoring systems, which will alert you when your site goes offline and help you understand the problem. Looking to run a load test and need help? Take a look at Convesio’s sample load testing report.
Website downtime can cause many problems for your business, such as loss of revenue and lower brand credibility. Fortunately, you can take steps to understand why it happens and how to prevent website downtime.
Using proper security measures, monitoring your website metrics, and choosing a quality website host are some ways to prevent website downtime. Taking these steps can be critical in ensuring the success of your website.