The Alertra Downtime Survival Guide

Yesterday we discussed the different types of website downtime, what causes downtime and why it is so detrimental to your business. We also promised to provide you with a survival guide for those inevitable times when your website will go down – and trust us, it is indeed a matter of when, not if. Website downtime is a fact of life. The key is to know what to do when downtime occurs. When your website experiences an outage, there are some steps you need to take. Most people, however, make the mistake of waiting until after the outage has occurred to jump into action. If you want to maximize uptime and ensure that downtime doesn’t cost your business money and customers, the time to prepare is now. Here’s what you need to do…

1. Invest in Website Monitoring Service

Now, you may be saying, “Of course they are going to suggest website monitoring services. That’s what they do!” The fact of the matter is, however, that a website monitoring service is quite essential to the uptime of your website. Without a website monitoring service, you won’t know if or when your site is suffering an outage. Just make sure you choose a website monitoring service that checks often and notifies you via phone and text message in addition to email. If you want to know why the method of notification is important, read this.

2. Invest in a DNS Backup Service

Your DNS can cause you more headaches than you may be prepared for. Quite a bit of website downtime is the result of problems with a DNS server. DNS backup services will check your DNS at regular intervals and will act as a backup DNS server if your primary DNS server goes down. This means that while everyone else who uses your DNS service is pulling their hair out, your site is up and running thanks to the backup DNS service you have invested in.

3. Create Backup Copies of Your Website and Database

Most website downtime is caused by a simple server issue. There are times, however, when malicious attacks may be the culprit. What happens if the reason for your downtime also results in all of your website content being erased? What if you need to move your site to another server? There are a number of reasons to make backup copies of your website and database. Make sure you make these copies right before and right after any changes you make to your site.

4. Don’t Let Your Domain Name Expire

You might think this should go without saying, but make sure your domain name registration doesn’t expire. You’d be surprised at the number of sites we’ve seen go down due to expired domain names (and then a mad dash to re-register them). Put your domain name on “auto-renew” if your host offers the option. It can save you headaches in the future.

5. Use the Right Error Codes

In the past we’ve talked about using 503 error codes to make sure the search engines (and your visitors) know that your site isn’t just gone – it’s simply experiencing server issues. A custom 302 error page can tell your visitors that the page has been temporarily moved. If you haven’t yet implemented these codes on your site, now is the time to do it.

6. Use Social Media to Your Advantage

If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, create one. If you don’t have a Twitter account, now is the time to sign up. When you get your visitors following you on Twitter and Facebook, you’ll be able to communicate with them regarding any downtime that may occur even though your website and email may not be working.

Prepare for Downtime and Save Yourself Time and Stress

When you prepare properly for website downtime, the amount of stress you encounter when downtime does occur can be significantly reduced. When you communicate properly with your customers, the chance of losing them or having them go to your competitors is also reduced. Customers can be forgiving – especially if you keep them in the loop. Keep the above advice in mind and make sure you prepare for downtime before it happens. Don’t wait for a crisis to occur before you take action.