Understanding Website Downtime and Handling It

Are the visitors to your website not being able to access your website’s functionality? There are 2 possible types of situations when this happens. One is when you do it deliberately i.e. when the website is down for maintenance. Around mid-night especially during weekends many financial sites are regularly down for maintenance. Another situation is when the website is down when it was supposed to be working fine. This later situation is not a good one and should be avoided or at least minimized.

Website downtime is the time when your website is down and the site is not available for your visitors. The reasons could be many from hardware issues, software issues, internet issues, DNS Server problems, malware or purely for maintenance. The reason downtime is important to track is because of the negative impact it can cause both qualitatively and quantitatively. Quantitatively, it causes loss of revenue, profit and lost customers. Qualitatively it causes drop in loyalty of customers to your site and brand.

By now many website owners and managers have realized that it is not possible to totally eliminate downtime. Some technical and operational solutions like having backup hosting, having geo-distributed hosting, web server load balancing allow to minimize both the downtime and also improve the performance of the website. Despite many solutions and service providers you cannot totally eliminate downtime.

Here’s a quick look at some of the things that might happen to your business if your website experiences downtime:

  • Your business reputation might take a tumble.
  • You’re likely to lose credibility.
  • Your website’s rank on the search results may go down.
  • Your business profits might get hit.

For all the reasons above it is critical that a business especially an online business handles its downtime related matters in an efficient and organized manner. Casualness or adhoc approaches will hurt the business both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Reduce The Maintenance Time and Schedule Maintenance in Off Peak Times

Your website may be down for maintenance. However, that period must be shortened to the extent possible. Otherwise, it can have a significant impact on your business which has been adequate covered in the previous paragraph. More than reducing the time your website is down for maintenance, it is important to choose the right time for doing maintenance. This means the maintenance should be performed when there are no visitors or very few visitors on your site. Your website analytics software can provide you the suitable times based on past trends. However, such times are inconvenient for your maintenance staff and will require some sacrifice to serve the customer.

Avoid Panicking During Downtime:

Downtimes are surely bad for your business. However, you should still avoid panicking when your website is down due to various reasons. Almost every website has experienced downtime. You need to focus on working calmly but vigorously to restore downtime. In many instances, to avoid panicking it is important to prepare in advance to recover from downtime even before such an instance happens. Irrespective of the preparation, a mind that panics may cause unforced errors and extend the downtime. It is important to stay cool, focused and pay attention to detail to restore website uptime.

Advance Preparation and Responding Systemically to Downtime

As the quotation goes, ‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’. This quotation is perfect for website downtime prevention.

One of the key ways to prevent downtime is the method of advance preparation. This is a powerful method to avoid possible issues that typically cause downtime. Another important approach to prevent downtime and also to recover quickly from downtime is to respond to downtime in systematic manner. That means approach the issue with a well-planned and organized approach. Such an approach avoids delays in restoring downtime due to carelessness and lack of application.

Prevent Common Causes of Downtime and Inform Visitors During Downtime

In conclusion, if you’re running a website, it’s not an easy task to avoid downtime. What you need to do is plan properly to prevent downtime caused by common issues. Moreover it is a good practice to acknowledge to your audience when a downtime happens. Let your visitors know you are working on the problem and also give an expected timeframe for resolution. Many visitors appreciate such efforts. Further, you must actively work to reduce the period of downtime to as short a time as possible.