How to Diagnose and Prevent Website Downtime
Having your website go down can be a very frustrating experience. However, just because your website goes down doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your site, or that there’s nothing you can do about it.
The best way to prevent your site from going offline is to take preventative action. But, if the unfortunate does occur and your site is already offline, there are steps you can take.
If you’re looking to prevent site downtime, then this post is for you. Below you’ll learn why websites go offline and what you can do about it. Don’t wait until it’s too late, implement the steps below to ensure your business doesn’t suffer due to a down website.
Why Do Websites Go Down?
There are myriad reasons why websites actually go offline. If there were just a single root cause, the problem would already be solved. If your site goes offline you’re not alone in the struggle, even massive sites like Facebook and Twitter do experience occasional outages from time to time.
There are a few common reasons your site might be offline, if you’re experiencing site downtime, then one of the issues below could be the culprit.
1. Server Maintenance
Sometimes your website will be taken offline deliberately; this isn’t a reason to worry. Web hosts have to update their server software and sometimes this can cause an interruption of service.
Usually, server maintenance is done during non-peak traffic hours. But, depending upon the location of your host, this could occur during a peak time for you, however, it’s very unlikely.
2. Overloaded Server
Depending upon your host your site could be down because you’re currently experiencing a traffic surge. If the hosting package you've chosen isn’t equipped to handle large volumes of traffic, then this could be the issue.
However, your site can also go down if you’re utilizing a shared hosting plan and other sites on the same server are experiencing a surge in traffic. This is known as the bad neighbor effect. Most web hosts try to stop this from occurring, but it’s still possible.
3. Site Coding Mistake
Technical errors can break your website and take it offline. For example, if you’re using WordPress a single missing line of code can break your site. If you’re getting an error message that isn’t related to your server, then it’s probably a mistake on your site like a plugin or theme conflict.
4. Site Attack
DDoS attacks occur when a hacker sends a flood of traffic to your site in order to bring it offline. If you don’t have proper security protocols in place on the backend of your site, you’re leaving the door open for hackers to either take control, or take down your site.
5. Free Hosting
If your site isn’t the problem, then there’s a good chance it’s your host. This could be because your current host can’t handle your existing traffic levels. Or, they’re just a low-quality host and have significant downtime. This happens a lot with free hosting services.
How to Prevent Your Site From Going Down
Luckily, keeping your site online is mostly within your control. Below you’ll learn a few proactive measures you can take to ensure your site stays online when you need it the most.
1. Choose a Solid Host
The host you choose is going to play a major role in the uptime of your website. Choose a low quality host and you’ll increase the risk of your site going offline. One of the big factors in choosing the right host is how much traffic your site receives. You’ll need a host that can handle either a steady traffic volume or huge spikes in traffic. Learn more about HostGator and our 99.9% uptime guarantee here.
2. Consider a CDN
CDNs can help to improve your website in a few different arenas. CDNs can act as a buffer during times of peak traffic, and can help to deter any DDoS attacks. CDNs like Cloudflare
are free to get started with and can improve most existing hosting environments.
3. Keep Your Site Up to Date
If you have any themes or plugins that are out of date you run the risk of leaving your site open for attack. Make sure you’re updating both your themes and plugins on a regular basis.
4. Consider a Monitoring Service
You can purchase a website monitoring service that will notify you whenever your site goes offline. If you’re not sure if your site is offline or not a service like this can help to diagnose the problem.
5. Keep Your Domain and Hosting Up to Date
Sometimes, something as small as forgetting to renew your domain name
or hosting can take your site down. This can be easily avoided. Make sure you set your hosting and domain names on auto-renew.
What to Do if Your Site Crashes?
If the unfortunate does arise and your site crashes there are a few things you should do before panicking. Below we highlight the process you should run through.
1. Verify It’s Offline
First you’ll want to verify that is indeed down. Check out your site on a different browser, or your mobile phone. Ask a friend if they can pull up your site and see if they get the same error.
2. Determine the Cause
If possible, try to determine the cause of the outage. Did you forget to renew your domain or hosting? Is it a site error? Is it down due to a surge of traffic? Is it a hosting error?
3. Reach Out to Support
Get in touch with your and see if they can help you diagnose, or handle the issue. A solid host will be on your side working with you to fix the issue swiftly.
4. Notify Users
If you have a large audience, or people who rely on your website, then make sure you notify them of the issue. You can do this either through email or via a post on social media. Don’t leave your users in the dark.
Having a website go down happens to most of us at one time or another. Hopefully the tips above can help you avoid it from occurring, or minimize any trouble that this downtime might cause. Overall, it’s important to choose a host that’s equipped to handle your website and will be on your team if any issues do arise.