How to Deal with Server Downtime Issues?

People often get confused with the word “server” because it can imply many types like database server, web server, mail server or even the internal file server within the firewall boundaries of the organizational network. The term that is mainly relevant for websites is web server which is designed to respond to the HTTP requests from the network. The server is responsible to serve the content that form the web pages in response to the user requests. In general, web servers are categorized as static and dynamic depending on how it's been used for websites. Web servers that serve the static content to the web pages not including data from back-end database systems are termed as static servers. In contrast, dynamic servers include application and database layers added to the static servers, where the application server co-ordinates with database server to update the hosted file before sending it through HTTP server to the browser. Overall, web server is essential to promptly respond to the user requests and keep the website working. Typically, web hosting service holds the responsibility for web servers where all the files including HTML, CSS, graphic files, javascript etc are stored and served as required by the web pages.

Why server is down?

The reasons for server downtime can be a normal maintenance process, hardware issues, low server capabilities to handle the traffic load, power failures etc. For any reason if server is down and fail to process the user request, the site will become inaccessible to the users. For site owners, it will be like a normal website downtime unless they know exactly that the issue is with the hosting server. One way to identify the problem is by using a website monitoring service which includes server monitoring for checking the instances of server downtime. As soon as the server is down, the site owner will be notified promptly about the issue by the website monitoring service.

What can you do about it?

With respect to bringing the server up, there is very little most site owners can do about it within their office if the server responsibilities are with hosting providers. In such cases, they need to depend on the hosting service with whom their site is being hosted, to investigate into the issue, fix the problem and restore the server back to normal. The process to bring the website up and running might take few minutes, hours or even days depending on the complexity of the issue. Also, keeping the website down for long duration is not good because it will cost businesses a great deal in terms of sales & revenues. As a website owner, one thing you can do is wisely handle the situation by planning ahead and having a contingency plan in place to minimize the downtime effects.

How to minimize server downtime?

Once you are notified about the server downtime by the site monitoring service, you can start working on downtime mitigation plans which would be like redirecting your site to secondary host, displaying error pages with the right message, communicating & keeping the customers informed using social platforms like Facebook, Twitter etc. Also, you can protect your site from frequent server issues and ensure good site uptime rates if you have a quality hosting provider who can support your website from multiple server locations.