Learning Lessons from Some of The Biggest Website Downtime Disasters of 2019

2020 is upon us and if there is one thing humanity has learned throughout its history, it is that if one hopes to succeed in the future they must learn from the mistakes of the past. Lessons learned from episodes of website downtime are no exception to this rule. Although there are more tools and information available than ever before to help companies fight website downtime and server downtime and outages, many online businesses still succumb to serious downtime disasters. If you want to improve and protect your website uptime in 2020, make sure you take a few lessons away from the top website downtime disasters of 2019. 

The March 13th Facebook Outage

Facebook is one of the world’s largest social media platforms with billions of users across the globe. One would think that an online giant with such a large user base would be protected from issues like server downtime and website outages. Unfortunately, on March 13th Facebook users discovered that even an online giant like Facebook can be prone to website downtime disasters. Due to a server configuration change issue, millions of Facebook users were unable to access the majority of Facebook’s features and apps. Due to a lack of communication with the public, rumors of DDoS attacks and server bugs spread like wildfire. Eventually Facebook addressed the pubic, resorting to Twitter to do so, and explained that the issues were due to a server configuration change. No further explanation was given. This caused a significant number of users to lose trust in Facebook’s ability to protect their data and information and caused the company’s reputation to take a significant blow. The incident makes it evident that even a single episode of website downtime can cause the public to lose faith in your online business and that thorough communication and transparency are crucial to retaining public trust. Unfortunately, this was not the last downtime disaster Facebook would face in 2019 and the company’s lack of clear explanations and failure to communicate openly further damaged the public’s trust in the social media giant. If you want to avoid making the same mistakes that Facebook made in 2019, make sure you thoroughly test any website changes before implementing them and if problems with your site do occur, utilize all available options to communicate to the public what the issues are and what you are doing to fix them as quickly as possible. Prompt and open communication can go a long way in retaining public trust, protecting your band’s reputation and mitigating the damage associated with website downtime. 

January and June 2019 Google Cloud Outages

In both January and June of 2019 Google faced massive outages. In January of 2019, the Internet giant experienced an hour and a half of downtime. Then again in June, the Google Cloud crashed, leaving millions of people without access to services such as Gmail, YouTube, and Google Drive. Even third-party services including Discord and Vimeo were impacted by the Google Cloud outage. Google did, however, communicate with the public about the reason for the outage, which was reported to be caused by a routine configuration change. The change resulted in Google Cloud servers’ capacity being cut in half, resulting in network congestion. It took the company three hours to restore services, however. Again, this is an example of assuming server configuration changes will go as planned without proper planning and testing. If you want to avoid similar issues with your website in 2020, protect your website from downtime with proper planning and testing and partner with a third-party website downtime monitoring service. 

2019 Black Friday Failures

Black Friday is a crucial day for online retailers. Customers flock to retail websites to take advantage of Black Friday deals. Unfortunately, some online retailers fail to ensure that their websites will be able to accommodate the increase in traffic that is often associated with Black Friday sales. In 2019, both Nordstrom Rack and Costco, among other online retailers, faced significant website downtime issues on Black Friday. Customers became outraged when they found that they were unable to take advantage of advertised deals. As a result, these consumers took to social media platforms such as Twitter to complain about the website downtime issues.  One Twitter user tweeted, “You really suck @Costco. All I had to look forward to today was some deals because I'm alone for the holiday and your website been down for hours. Quit sending me all the member sale emails since I CAN'T LOG IN YOUR SITE.” Other similar messages could be found throughout social media websites. It is important to remember that today’s consumers have a much louder voice than ever before when it comes to complaining about online retailers who fail to meet their expectations. In light of this, it is crucial that you partner with a third-party website monitoring service to ensure that you minimize the risk of your website going down, plan properly for increased traffic, and communicate about any issues that your website may face while also work as quickly as possible to restore services. If you fail to do these things, the consumer you disappoint will take to social media and damage your brand’s reputation. 

Proper Planning and Prompt Communication Are Key

If we are to take any lessons away from the website downtime disasters of 2019, it is that online businesses need to do everything possible to minimize website downtime by partnering with a quality website monitoring service, properly plan any website changes before allowing such changes to go live on your site, and communicate immediately with consumers if your site does go down for any amount of time while communicating the reason for the downtime, keeping customers in the loop and offering transparency. While minimizing website downtime is the key to protecting your online branding and reputation, communication efforts when downtime does occur is just as crucial to your online success. As we go into 2020, remember these lessons and plan accordingly while partnering with the proper third-party services to protect your website’s uptime.