We expect our websites to be available 24/7 but every so often, websites go down and this should always be a concern to any business website owner. There can be many causes of why a website may experience downtime, but in this article I will cover the most common causes and how to prevent them. Downtime is when your business website is inaccessible i.e. an error message is displayed or the website is rendered unusable in some way and cannot perform its primary task for its end users or potential customers. Downtime can be detrimental to your SEO and have a negative impact on your businesses’ reputation eventually costing you sales and revenue. So what are the main causes of downtime, and what can you do about it?
Probably the most common cause for website downtime can be attributed to web hosting problems, which can be very frustrating as these types of issues are out of your control. All webhosts at some point need to perform maintenance on their servers but should cause minimal disruption. Longer and more frequent outages can spell real problems for your business. Make sure to choose a reliable web host and check their terms & conditions and what support they provide before signing up.
This is known as a “Denial of Service Attack” and is the result of huge volumes of fake web traffic being sent either to your website or another website that is a part of the same shared hosting. If your website resides on a dedicated host then this will minimise the possibility of such an attack. So whether you use shared or dedicated hosting make sure your web host employs DDoS protection as part of your hosting plan check if they will include unlimited or higher traffic volumes in your hosting plan.
This may seem unlikely but I can tell you I have had many clients that have either forgotten to renew their plans or did not receive or pay attention to reminder emails from their provider. Most hosting & domain providers offer automatic renewals and send reminder emails so pay attention to those and take note of when your hosting, domain or SSL certificate is due for renewal. Also be sure to update your payment details with your provider including credit card info to help prevent this happening in the future.
Poorly written code can cause website disruptions and downtime if the programming is not up to scratch. These types of issues can also be the result in the webhost upgrading PHP versions without first notifying you to give your developer time to upgrade the code, resulting in incompatible code and the loss of one or more of your web pages or other critical website functions. So it is important to be made aware of these issues before they escalate.
This applies more to Wordpress and other common platforms rather than a custom website build and it could be said that the more complex the CMS (content management system) the more likelihood there is of a plugin, theme or other module to wreak havoc with your website. Plugins and themes offer much functionality and can be installed at the click of a button, however not all of these will be compatible with every website and what may seem like a simple installation can break your website in a matter of seconds. It is recommended that you make regular backups of your site before making any such changes or contact your developer first.