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What Causes Website Downtime, How It Manifests, And How You Can Prevent It

By Expert Author: Nate Rodney

Website downtime is the nemesis of any profitable online entity. Every minute of downtime equates to lost profits and lost customer confidence. While most website owners realize the impact that downtime can have on their site, they aren't sure what to do about it or how to avoid it. Some may not even realize what exactly is causing their site to experience the issues that it may be having, nor do they understand that there is something they can do to minimize potential damage. If you own or operate a website, understanding what causes website downtime, how it manifests, and what you can do to prevent it is crucial to the success of your site.

What Causes Website Downtime?

There can be numerous reasons for website downtime. Most occurrences of downtime, however, can be grouped into one of four categories. These include planned downtime, hackers, component failures, and natural disasters. Any of these four things can lead to downtime and lost profits. While some factors are more manageable than others, all four can be planned for properly.

How Does Website Downtime Manifest?

A site doesn't usually go down without some tell-tale signs appearing beforehand. Slow page load times are usually an indication that something is wrong with your website. If your site begins to experience performance issues, it may be a sign that something more dire is headed your way. Any slowdown in site performance should be looked into and addressed. If the issue isn't caught in time, the downtime may manifest as an HTTP error, a hijacked webpage, or a dead page where nothing loads at all. All of these are frustrating to customers and can cause your customer base to lose confidence in your site.

How You Can Fight Website Downtime:

While you can't completely avoid website downtime, you can take measures to avoid it. First and foremost, put website monitoring services into place. If your site begins to experience performance issues or suffers an outage, your website monitoring service will notify you immediately so you are the first to know and can take appropriate action.

Also be sure that you have DNS backup service in place. Some downtime can be the result of problems associated with your DNS. If your DNS goes down, a backup service can grab your DNS data and act as a temporary backup until your primary DNS is back up and running again.

You should also make sure that you use appropriate server downtime error codes and custom error pages. Not only will these codes and pages allow your customers to know that your server is experiencing issues, but it will allow the search engines to know as well. If the search engine happens to be crawling your site during an outage, it will be more forgiving in regards to your rankings if you have a proper code in place.

While website downtime may not be completely avoidable, you can minimize the amount of downtime your site experiences and how long your site is down for by taking appropriate measures before the downtime even occurs. Your goal should be for 100 percent uptime. If your site does go down, it's your job to find out why and to get it back up and running as quickly as possible. By utilizing a combination of resources, such as DNS backup service and a website monitoring service, you can minimize downtime and the associated lost profits and increased customer frustration that are associated with it.

Alertra is a leading provider of website monitoring and alerting services. We monitor the availability and performance of Internet-connected devices. As part of Alertra website monitoring service, we provide timely alert notifications and access to detailed reporting. We offer monitoring service to all sizes of businesses right from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

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