Though website outages are common, many website owners do not bother to prepare for them. They tend to rely on their hosting company for the uptime. As the downtime keeps increasing, the credibility of the site as well as the business keeps decreasing. While these outages cannot be stopped from occurring, their impact can be minimized with proper preparation.
While outages and downtime of small websites go unnoticed to the world (even to the owner, sometimes), the awareness of downtime of major ones spreads faster and makes it into the news. Popular outages that occurred recently include big names like Amazon, Twitter, Sony, Netflix, Bank of America, etc. The main point to notice here is that these outages are inevitable even for the big websites.
Possible reasons: The possible reasons for these outages can be categorized into scheduled and unscheduled outages.
Scheduled outages: These mostly include maintenance activities like upgrading, repairing or patching of software, applications or the hardware. These are generally scheduled to ensure that the impact of downtime is very minimal. In this case, you have an option to display a message on your site with details of the scheduled outage and thus minimize its impact. Google handles its scheduled outages very well. However, it is not very likely that hosting companies will share information with you about these scheduled outages every time.
Unscheduled outages: These are unforeseen failures in any part of the technology infrastructure related to the website, including hardware, software, network infrastructure, naming services infrastructure, database, etc. Even unexpected traffic can also result in downtime. Hence, it is very important to have a plan to deal with these outages.
How would an early message help?
Apart from having an emergency plan, it is equally important to know when to initiate it. Though, you may have prepared well for an outage, it is a sheer waste if you are not able to implement it in-time. While the reasons for downtime can vary, it is very important for the owner to get the information as soon as possible. Receiving a message instantly about the outage can help you take all the necessary steps to resolve the situation. Thus, you will be minimizing the negative impact.
Importance of monitoring: Monitoring services track your website continuously and report instantly in case of any downtime or outage. This enables you to get the message instantly and react appropriately in-time. Monitoring services also check for other issues related to website performance, and give you timely reports. Thus, you can consider subscribing to a monitoring service as part for your site downtime preparation plan.
If you are serious about your website availability, then you should consider making an appropriate backup plan. Choosing a reliable host with a proper track record and ensuring redundancy of the site, etc. are some common strategies in terms of planning for outages.