What is Server Downtime?

Server “downtime” is the term that is used to describe a period of time in which a server or website is unavailable. Server downtime and outages occur when a system is unable to perform its primary functions. Downtime can be the result of a planned event, such as a system upgrade or routine maintenance. It may also be the result of unexpected issues such as server overloads or system crashes.

Planned Downtime versus Unplanned Downtime

Server downtime is unavoidable in certain situations. Planned downtime, such as the downtime that is associated with server maintenance and upgrades, can be planned for properly and notice can be given to your customers. When such downtime is scheduled, it is scheduled in advance. This allows you to give your customers notice regarding the downtime so they are made aware of the fact that your website will be unavailable during a set period of time. Notifying your customers of planned downtime in advance results in less frustration and does not impact the reputation of your company.

Unplanned downtime, on the other hand, can be a frustrating experience for customers and potential customers. Your website visitors may be unable to make or purchase or access features of your website that they need. If you want to maximize your profits and reduce customer frustration, you need to make sure that unplanned downtime is minimized and that you are monitoring the level of server downtime that your website is experiencing.

What Causes Unplanned Downtime?

As explained above, unplanned server downtime can be caused by a number of factors. Improper system configuration, hardware failure or other system failures can result in unplanned server downtime. Server overloads and bandwidth issues are other problems that can result in unplanned server downtime. Catastrophic failure at the data center where your server resides can also result in serious downtime issues.

How Much Downtime Should You Expect?

The amount of downtime you should expect will depend on how often you perform server updates and maintenance as well as the quality of your service provider. You can take measures to minimize planned downtime, such as the implementation of server clustering. Server clustering provides you with continuous messaging availability through the services of a standby server in the exchange cluster while you perform maintenance on the primary node. Unplanned downtime, however, is not so easy to manage. That is why it is crucial that you keep an eye on server outages and slowdowns and monitor your server’s performance. If you have anything less than 99.9 percent uptime, there is a problem and you either need to upgrade your server or change to another service provider.

How to Monitor Your Server Downtime

You can’t fix a problem if you do not know that a problem exists. It is nearly impossible (and is definitely not cost effective) to have an employee monitoring your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The best way to ensure that you are on top of any server downtime issues that may arise is to utilize the services of a website monitoring company. A website monitoring service can keep an eye on your websites, servers and routers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will alert you when your site is experiencing outages or slowdowns. If you notice that you have more downtime than you should be experiencing, you can take measures to correct the issue.