5 Things We Learned About Website Downtime in 2018

In a perfect world 2018 would have seen website downtime become a thing of the past. The fact of the matter is that as websites become more complicated and increasingly dependent upon third-party services, downtime isn’t going to become a thing of the past anytime soon. If we learned anything in 2018, it taught us that website downtime is still a very real struggle, even for the biggest sites on the Web. Here are 5 things that 2018 taught us about website downtime.

1. Communication is Key, But It Needs to Be Done Right

When your website goes down, communication is key. However, transparency is vital to that communication in terms of website downtime. When Google’s YouTube went down in October of 2018, they did indeed communicate that they were working on the downtime and did communicate when the issues had been resolved. What they did not do, however, is explain why the site went down to begin with. When questioned about the reason for the downtime, they simply said they had nothing else to share about the incident. If your site goes down, your visitors are going to want to know why. Denying them that information is likely to make them feel unvalued and unappreciated, especially if they ask directly what caused the issue and are ignored. When communicating about any website downtime, make sure you explain the what, why, and when. “What” being what is causing the downtime, “why” being why it happened, and “when” being when it is expected to be back up again (with prompt communication when the site is back up). This level of transparency reduces frustration and can mitigate the losses that website downtime may cause.

2. Even One Hour of Downtime Can Be Costly

It’s crucial that you are on top of your game in terms of your website uptime at all times, especially when a surge in website traffic is expected. Even just one hour of downtime can cause your site’s profits to take a major hit. Just look at Amazon’s Prime Day in 2018. Though there was plenty of evidence that Amazon needed to be ready for a huge surge in traffic, they experienced massive downtime that day and a single hour was estimated to have cost them up to $100 million in lost sales. No matter how large or small your online business may be, no one can afford to throw away profits. If you have yet to integrate scaling abilities into your hosting service and do not yet have failsafe plans in place, now is the time to get your house in order so you’ll be ready for the growth that 2019 will bring.

3. As Websites Evolve, You Need a Website Monitoring Service That Adapts

Not all website monitoring services are created equal. As websites evolve, you need a website monitoring service that can evolve with your website. One-size-fits-all services may help decrease your site’s downtime to a degree, but they won’t be effective at truly minimizing the damage that downtime can cause. Services that offer tools like webhooks and other advanced monitoring features will help you keep any losses due to downtime to a minimum. Remember, it’s not only important to invest in a website monitoring service, it’s important to invest in one that produces results.

4.  The Best Hosting Providers Don’t Always Remain the Best

The best hosting providers don’t always stay at the top in terms of performance and service. With 2019 approaching, now is a good time to ensure that your hosting provider is on top of their game in the uptime department and also ensure that they haven’t started to slack in terms of unnecessary website downtime and their quality of support. Make sure your current hosting provider can accommodate your needs in the coming year and can scale your service to meet any increased demand. If you find they are now lacking in any of these areas, it’s time to make a change to a different provider.

5. Back Up Your Data and Be Prepared for the Worst

One of the most important takeaways from 2018 is that you need to be prepared for the worst. Website downtime is going to happen. While website monitoring can help you minimize that downtime, you also need to have plans ready to implement in casea worst-case scenario does occur. While some bouts of downtime are due to server overload or maintenance, some downtime disasters result in a complete wipe of an entire network and the loss of all of your data. Be sure to have current backups of your site’s data at all times so you can get your site back online as soon as possible if such a situation occurs. Ideally you should back up your data daily to prevent any data loss in such situations. Also, as 2018 has shown us, 48 percent of companies who back up their websites experience a secondary loss due to the backup not functioning properly. This means that backing the data up isn’t enough. You also need to ensure those backups are functioning properly.

Getting Ready for 2019

While there were some very large instances of downtime in 2018, one thing we can take away from the year is that downtime is not a problem that is going to go away anytime soon. Partnering with a quality hosting provider as well as a quality website monitoring service is as important as ever, if not more so, as are failsafes and proper planning. By learning from the past, you can minimize any downtime you may experience in 2019.