3 Surefire Ways to Minimize the Effects of Website Downtime

When it comes to running a successful online business, you likely know that website downtime can be one of your worst and most-feared enemies. When your site goes down it means that profits are lost and you run the risk of losing loyal customers and tarnishing your business’s reputation. These are things that no online enterprise wants to risk, so it goes without saying that minimizing dreaded website downtime should become one of your first priorities. Fortunately, maximizing your site’s up-time isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Here are three surefire ways to minimize the impact that website downtime could have on your website.

1. Select a Reputable Hosting Provider
Almost every single web hosting company that is doing business nowadays makes up-time guarantees to potential customers. That doesn’t mean, however, that those guarantees are indicative of the hosting provider’s true performance. When a hosting provider makes such a guarantee, the only downtime included in that guarantee is unplanned downtime, and they only promise to cover the costs of hosting for downtime that exceeds the promised percentage. They don’t promise to cover lost profits or other damages that downtime can cause. These hosting companies only promise to refund the amount of money you would pay for the hosting for the period your site was down, above and beyond the guaranteed percentage they promise.

To better understand, let’s look at this example. Say you pay $50 each month for hosting and you were promised an up-time percentage of 99.8 percent. If you are on a monthly plan, this means that your site can be down for about 86 minutes due to unplanned downtime each month before the guarantee even kicks in. Now let’s say your site experienced for 2 hours (or 120 minutes) of unplanned downtime in one month. Only 34 of those minutes would be covered by the downtime guarantee. At a rate of $50 per month, the company would only be responsible for refunding you 4 cents. In fact, your website could go down for half the month and the only thing that guarantee would get you is a $25 refund. This means you can’t put a lot of weight into the up-time guarantees offered by the hosting companies.

Instead of shopping for a company based upon price or up-time guarantees alone, search the web for hosting provider reviews. Unbiased reviews can be vital when it comes to finding the best hosting provider for your website. Once you find a hosting provider that you think you want to do business with, do a quick search on Twitter for mentions of the company. If there are numerous tweets about downtime associated with the host, keep searching until you find one with a good reputation. If everything seems to be up to par, go ahead and sign up with that gem of a hosting service.

2. Employ a Quality Website Monitoring Service
Because every moment of website downtime costs you money, frustrates your customers, and can significantly damage your online reputation, you want to do everything you possibly can to reduce your downtime. That means employing a quality website monitoring service.

The last scenario you want to face is one in which something is awry with your website and your customers know about it before you do. When you have a quality website monitoring service in place keeping a vigilant eye on your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, you will know about any performance issues or downtime instances the moment they occur. This means you can go to work quickly to resolve the matter. This also prevents you from facing a scenario in which your customers have to notify you in regards to your site’s downtime or performance issues.

While there are free website monitoring services on the Web, as with many services, in the world of website monitoring you tend to get what you pay for. Rather than selecting a service based on price alone, look for a service that offers multiple servers in multiple locations. Also, which monitors your site consistently throughout the day each and every day (checking your site as often as every minute), and look for a service that will notify you of downtime and/or performance issues not only via email, but also by phone and SMS text message.

If downtime costs your company even just $5 a minute and the service can reduce your downtime by two hours per year, the service will have saved you $600 a year in lost profits, and that is a very, very low estimate considering the fact that the average site goes down approximately 14 hours a year and loses approximately $110,000 for every minute downtime occurs.

3. Put Downtime Maintenance Messages into Place
When your website does go down, one of two things will happen. Your visitors will receive an error message that tells them the site is not currently available or they will encounter a friendly message that explains that the site is being updated in order to better serve them. While neither message is ideal, when your website monitoring service sends you an alert that your site has indeed gone down, you want to ensure that your site’s visitors are being communicated with properly and that they are being given a friendly update message rather than a generic error message. The former lets your customers know the site is down because you are making improvements. The latter leaves your visitors wondering if your site is down for good or for more ominous reasons.

To ensure that you can put such a message into place, make sure that you are hosting your website with a provider that uses maintenance windows and implements user-friendly messages to minimize any impact that planned downtime may have on your business’s reputation.

While downtime cannot be avoided completely, combining quality hosting, a good website monitoring service, and proper communication during downtime will allow you to minimize the damage any downtime may do to your business’s online success.