How to Manage Scheduled/Planned Downtimes?

Website downtimes are frustrating to visitors whether it is a planned event for maintenance / upgrades or an unplanned sudden outage. Sometimes it becomes necessary to take the site offline for routine procedures of software & hardware maintenance and upgrades. When it is a planned downtime for server maintenance and upgrades, it can be properly planned and scheduled to have minimal effect on business revenues. Though planned downtimes are inconvenient, the process can be handled wisely by notifying the customers through emails or displaying error message on websites. If not handled properly, even planned downtimes turn out disastrous for online businesses.

Schedule Planned Downtimes During off Peak Hours

Since planned downtimes are scheduled, it can be planned for off peak business hours to have less effect on business revenues. Some hosting providers inform the schedule ahead and plan the maintenance work at the convenience of their customers. When it is scheduled ahead, the site owners will have a chance to keep their sites ready for downtime. Also, the impact of downtime will be minimal.

Prepare for Unexpected Outages During Planned Downtimes

If things go smooth as planned, the site will be back to normal as per the schedule. Unfortunately, unexpected problems may occur during maintenance which may extend the downtime duration. Sometimes, the site owners might even not know about the extended downtime unless they are informed by the web hosts. When unexpected outages happen during planned downtimes, the customers get confused if the site is down for good or if it is merely a temporary issue. You need to be prepared for such unexpected site failure situations and have a disaster recovery plan in place to mitigate the consequences of downtime and ensure business continuity.

Notify Customers

It is better to communicate the message saying the site is temporarily down for maintenance. If possible send email messages to all the customers in the site’s email list informing when the website downtime is planned to happen and how long the site is expected to be down. You can also use social media channels to keep the customers informed about the progress to avoid frustration and keep them calm during the event of downtime.

Have a right HTTP Status Code in Place

It is important to have a proper HTTP status code when the site is down for maintenance. Otherwise the search engines will assume that your site is down for good.   If the site is taken down for maintenance the status code should be 503 implying the service is temporarily unavailable. This means the search engines will know that the unavailability of the site is only temporary and the outage will not likely affect search engine rankings. By displaying a right status code on error page during planned outages, your site can avoid the risk of losing search engine rankings.

Use Tools to know Unnecessary Downtimes

By taking specific measures and utilizing proper tools and resources, you can keep the site prepared for downtime instances either planned or unplanned. By utilizing website monitoring service, you can ensure that you know about an instance of downtime the moment it happens. In case if unexpected outages happen during planned downtimes, you will receive alert the moment it occurs. The website monitoring service keeps tab on the amount of downtime your website experiences and alerts when the site is not working.