Controlling Website Downtime: Understanding the Complex Causes and Cures
For most small business owners, maintaining an internet presence is essential to their bottom lines. In fact, many businesses nowadays are run exclusively online. That means that if their website goes down, their profits are going to suffer. Internet users expect websites to load almost immediately and even a minor delay can lead to a loss of revenue. If the website goes down entirely, then the company is going to experience a major hit to its finances. No matter how big or small your business is, it is important that you understand what the causes of website downtime are and how to prevent it.
Probably the biggest cause of website downtime is problems with the hosting service. While most hosting services guarantee that your website will be up nearly 100 percent of the time, in practice you may find your site is down on a regular basis. Often the problem is that the hosting service cannot handle the amount of traffic your website is attracting. Although some hosting services may reimburse you for the cost of hosting the website, they won’t reimburse you for the revenue you would have made had customers been able to reach your site. You should setup website monitoring to keep track of how often your website is down. If your website is down regularly, either upgrade your plan or switch to a new hosting company.
Hacking and malware
One thing that every website owner should be concerned about is hacking and malware. A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack can generate a massive amount of traffic to your website in a short amount of time, causing it to crash. DDoS attacks are something that targets even the biggest companies on the internet. You may be especially vulnerable to a DDoS attack if you are on a shared hosting plan. A targeted hacking attack on your website can also cause chaos for your business and may even result in it going down for some time.
This is a problem that especially affects businesses that rely on WordPress. Plugins can greatly improve your site and make it far more useful for customers, thus potentially increasing your revenue. However, if the plugins you are using are out of date or are no longer compatible with your website it could cause the entire website to go down. This problem tends to happen if you are using an old plugin that is no longer maintained.
Expired domain registration
A lot of small business owners make the mistake of assuming that just because they have a website hosting company, that their domain has been registered as well. Hosting and domain registration, however, are not the same thing. You are responsible for making sure you renew your domain registration on a regular basis. Failing to do so could cause your website to crash.
Fixing website downtime
The cure for website downtime largely depends on the cause. If the issue is with your hosting company then you should consider shopping around for a new host. If you can afford it, then having a dedicated host can decrease downtime and also acts as a security protection. However, most small businesses will only be able to afford shared hosting. You can take other steps to increase your website’s security that are far more affordable. Updating your plugins and ensuring you use the latest version of WordPress are key to maintaining website security. Speaking of plugins, whenever you add a new plugin or make a change to an existing one, it’s essential that you check that your website is still working properly afterward. Not only will this prevent sudden website downtime, it also allows you to isolate which plugin is the problem so that you can fix the issue faster. And finally, you need to realize that downtime is something that affects every website at some point. While you cannot prevent downtime entirely, you can take steps to minimize its impact on your business. You should make regular backups of your website, which can be done easily with WordPress. And if your site does go down, make sure your customers know you are working on fixing the problem by keeping them updated through social media.
Website downtime is more than just an inconvenience. If it happens frequently, it can present a major threat to your business’ bottom line. With the above tips, however, you can work to minimize your website’s exposure to downtime and help get it back online faster when it does crash.
Elizabeth Bryant is a website developer who loves to write. She enjoys sharing her wisdom by posting on many small business websites.