As a business, if you think about your mission-critical systems, your website should be on the list. After all, potential customers could be looking at your website at any time: day or night.
It is the customer’s first impression of your company. Nothing will make a customer turn away faster than a slow website to load, or worse, it doesn’t load at all. And if customers leave your website, there is a good chance they will never return.
You need to think of website downtime as money lost. But, you can minimize the impacts on your business by being prepared.
Causes of Website Downtime
There are many causes of website downtime. Even if your website hasn’t run into any major issues, no website is immune. The causes of website downtime can range from something that can easily be corrected to something serious.
Here are some common causes of website downtime.
For small to mid-sized businesses, hardware failure is one of the primary causes of website downtime. You may have all of your bases covered, but there is still a good chance of a failure at some point that can cause your entire site to go offline.
Website Hosting Issues
If your website hosting provider has poor service, you may have website downtime. Sometimes hosting providers have scheduled monthly maintenance, which can lead to some downtime.
However, if there is unscheduled maintenance or other downtime, you may need to rethink your business with that hosting provider. Compensation from the provider for downtime may not be able to make up for your lost business.
Not all IT administrators have a proper understanding of managing DNS servers. A slight issue with the DNS can lead to downtime. The problems are so varied that troubleshooting can be tricky.
No one likes to think about an outside attack, but the reality is that it could happen to any business. Hackers could shut down your website for no particular reason. They spend time scanning websites using bots looking for lapses in security.
The security protocols of your website are critical. Any weaknesses could be exploited.
If you do not keep your site updated, you could run into problems. This can include checking for updates and reviewing updates for any plugins or extensions that you may be using. Often, websites have many components that need to be working together to keep your site running smoothly.
If your maintenance is not kept up-to-date, some components may begin to “fight” each other. It could even be a problem with the system’s database itself.
Mistakes happen, and even the smallest piece of bad code can be enough to disrupt a critical page on your website. This could happen either during maintenance on the website or adding something new to the website. New code should be tested before it goes live, but this doesn’t always happen.
Effects of Website Downtime
There are both tangible and intangible costs to website downtime. Beyond any costs involved in investigating the root cause, website downtime affects many areas of your business. The longer your website is down, the more costs you can potentially face.
Your business could experience any of the following costs related to website downtime:
- Loss of potential sales or other opportunities
- Bad publicity
- Increased shipping costs to make up for lost time
- Penalties or bank fees
- Costs associated with employee overtime to troubleshoot
- Loss in productivity for employees not able to work during downtime
- Other IT recovery costs
- Loss of customer trust
- Damage to the company brand
- Loss of customers to competitors
- Negatively affect page ranking
Some of these losses are incalculable. Potential customers may never return when they find a website is down. You may also need to apologize to your existing customers if your website being down impacted their business.
If you want to get an idea of the cost of website downtime, try to put a number around some of these costs. Imagine if your website were down for an hour, or six hours, or twelve… and the impact that would have on your business.
Reducing Website Downtime
Even the largest companies in the world face outages. Amazon experienced a significant disruption in November of 2020 that impacted thousands of services for several hours. The best that your company can do is try to minimize the potential for outages and minimize the length of time when outages occur.
Improving your website’s uptime takes some planning. Here are some considerations.
Choose a Reliable Hosting Provider
Go for the best hosting provider that you can afford. The more reliable your provider, the less likely it will be that you will experience downtime related to the provider.
You can use a service to monitor your website’s uptime. As bad as an outage would be, not realizing that you have an outage compounds the problem. If you use a monitoring service, you can receive alerts as soon as your website goes down.
Have the Best Security in Place
There are many measures you can put in place to protect your website from potential hackers. You can install a web application firewall or security applications. You can tighten network security and access control, and limit file uploads.
Keep on Top of Maintenance
Not only will keeping on top of maintenance reduce your risk of downtime, but it also reduces your security threats. Keeping your hardware up-to-date also reduces your risk. You can look into hardware-as-a-service and have experts make sure you are staying up to date.
Business Continuity and Data Backups
While you may not want to think about the worst-case scenario, you need to plan for it. Backup, backup, backup – and plan for what you would do in the event of a disaster.
If you do not have a business continuity plan and backups in place, you could face a critical loss of data. Small businesses may not be able to recover from such a loss.
Reduce the Risks of Website Downtime with Managed IT Services
If you are proactive, you can reduce the impact that website downtime will have on your business. Take the necessary steps to protect your website so that your business operations can continue to run smoothly.