Regardless of the function of your website, a good contingency plan against an outage is important for its success. Whether it is merely for blogging or generating income as an Ecommerce site, you don’t want it to be offline for a prolonged period or it could hurt your credibility. More so, as a business, an unresolved down-time will lead to loss of sales and distrust in your consistency.
A study revealed that up to 13% of web users will not only not return, but tell 20 colleagues about the experience. Therefore, having a plan for soft-landing helps you come back on quickly and restores confidence among your customers.
When setting up a website for your business, the choice of hosting provider matters. A good provider gives you several options during an unexpected downtime and the customer support system can be a good buffer for you.
The following strategies are ways to prevent the effects of a crash that would otherwise, cripple your business.
1. Have a good back-up plan
Every IT personnel should be familiar with the saying, “Always prepare for a data crash because it eventually will.” Make sure you conduct daily backups of all the systems on your website. If your data is contained in an external server- a hosting provider- check them too.
Many hosting companies will claim to back up your data regularly, but it is recommended that you confirm this yourself. How? Upload a specific file to your website and delete it five minutes later. Then ask your hosting company to recover the file. If they fail to do so within the hour, chances are their claim may be as bogus as a new £100 note.
Even if they do, the idea is to ensure you do your personal back-ups. Don’t rely on anybody to do it for you. Some easily available programs like FileZilla can help you copy important data and files from your cPanel to the internal systems.
Another popular claim by many hosting companies is the provision of 100% uptime service. In reality, there are factors that make a perfect score impossible. The highest uptime guarantee any service can offer is 99.999%. You can tell a reliable service by this claim alone.
Depending on your plan, the quality of uptime service will vary. For example, a shared plan will usually be under a lot of strain because of the hundreds of other websites on the same server. A crash from a neighbouring website can affect your own. However, a premium shared plan, which includes additional support packages can save you considerably from this. According to Brendan, a digital marketing expert at Discount Domains, “Premium shared plan offers optimised, controlled platform, which leads to improved performance.”
“If you upgrade to a premium shared plan, your web performance can improve. However, if the size of your website and the complexity of its functions can no longer support the shared server, switching to a VPS or dedicated server may be the next solution, “he says.
A dedicated server is a private one and gives to control over operations. Although you will be leasing it from the hosting company, you are free to uses it as you deem fit. Dedicated servers rarely crash as much as the shared ones, and backing up feels like a breeze.
1. Logging and monitoring
Depending on your plan, the hosting provider will be responsible for several operational activities including software updates, security installation, backups and so on. However, it is advisable for every site owner especially E-commerce businesses to take responsibility for their own configurations. Logging and monitoring are two activities you must never ignore.
Ensure you open and maintain a manual log for every addition or modification you make to the website. Also, write the date the changes were made and the administrator responsible for them. Having this in place significantly increases the speed of restoration in event of a catastrophe.
Set up a monitoring service for your website. This will send you an email prompt whenever your website is down. The notification is usually sent to the address you put during the configuration. Some website monitoring services also alert you when there is suspicious activity such as a hacking attempt or unauthorised access. There are many tools that provide this service and more. Learn more about them and choose the one that is most suitable for your web needs.
2. Responding to a server downtime
At some point, your website will suffer an outage. It is a certainty because anything can happen. However, the idea is to be well prepared so you can restore as quickly as possible. When this occurs, don’t fret. Rather contact your host provider’s technical support. One of the important things to look out for when choosing a host is the support system. Are they round-the-clock? Do they give direct assistance or is it an automated service? Avoid providers with an inadequate technical support.
The hosting company should be able to explain the problem and what they are doing to resolve it. The problem could be limited to your website or part of a general issue. The next step is to inform your customers. Without being too specific, notify them about the problem and when you hope to be back online. By reassuring them, you will not only allay their worries, but solidify their trust in your service.
If the outage is taking longer than necessary, provide customers with regular updates on the progress. Restoring the site quickly and completely requires a fair amount of technical expertise. Small businesses without the resources or manpower should engage a reputable IT service to work on the front end in case of an emergency.
Whether your company needs a large infrastructure to avert an outage depends on how vital your online operations are to your income. Do you know what thirty minutes of downtime could cost your business in lost sales, customer confidence and deferred traffic? Even a five-minute delay can send a prospective customer to your competitor.
To stay relevant and maintain credibility as a reliable online business, a proper backup plan is necessary. Keep your customers satisfied and your business will continue to grow.