Understanding Website Downtime

We talk a lot about website downtime in this blog. We are, after all, the uptime experts and we do everything we can to ensure that our customers have as little downtime as possible. Downtime can be a confusing thing, however. Understanding what causes downtime, what to do about it and how to minimize the downtime your website experiences is crucial. In this post we will discuss the types of downtime, what causes website downtime and why these things are important.

What is Website Downtime?

There are two types of website downtime. We will refer to them as hard website downtime and soft website downtime. Hard website downtime is when your site goes down completely. This can occur due to factors like planned outages, component failures and malicious website attacks. Soft website downtime is what happens when your site experiences performance issues, such as slow load times. This can be caused by the way your website pages are configured or due to issues with your hosting plan.

What Happens When Your Website Experiences Downtime?

When you experience website downtime, a number of things can occur. What happens largely depends on the reason for your downtime and if you have planned properly or not. Your users may encounter hijacked web pages, dead pages that don’t load, HTTP errors, pages that take forever to load and other downtime manifestations. All of these things will affect your business and will have a direct impact on the level of frustration your visitors experience.

Why is Website Downtime Such a Nemesis to Online Businesses?

There are a number of reasons why businesses need to take website downtime seriously. First and foremost, website downtime can affect your online business’s profitability. For example, in 2007 Amazon.com made $14.8 billion. If this revenue were spread out evenly over time, that would mean that the site makes about $29,000 per minute. This means that even 5 minutes of downtime can cost Amazon.com in excess of $100k.

Customer satisfaction is another thing that is impacted by website downtime. Nothing frustrates customers more than going to your website and not being able to access the pages they are trying to get to. The typical customer will not have any issue with going to the website of a competitor if they can’t access the pages of your site. This means that every minute of downtime can cost you customers in addition to lost profits.

Another thing many website owners don’t realize is the effect that website downtime may have on potential investors. Let’s say you were thinking of investing in a website. Would you be so keen on investing your money if you went to visit the site and couldn’t get the pages to load? If you experience website downtime when potential investors visit, those investors are going to disappear along with the funds they could have potentially invested in your site.

Finally, another thing to consider is that if you don’t code your site properly with a 503 error page, your site is going to suffer in decreased search engine rankings. If your website is down for 24 hours or more and you don’t have a 503 page in place, your search engine rankings will suffer greatly. We discussed implementing a 503 error page in a previous post. It can save you a great deal of trouble when it comes to the SEO of your website.

Surviving Website Downtime

Now that you know exactly what website downtime is and why it is crucial to maximize your website uptime, we’ll discuss a downtime survival guide in our next post. Stay tuned to learn exactly what to do to protect your site from the detriments of a website outage.