Nobody wants their website to go down, especially when they’re paying to have it up.
Having your website crash can be downright frustrating, and it often happens at the most inconvenient times—like the day of a big presentation or when you’re job hunting.
Don’t worry though: just because your website crashes doesn’t mean it’s broken and just because it went down once doesn’t mean you can’t prevent similar occurrences from happening again.
Read on to learn why websites crash and what to do when it happens to you.
First off, why do websites go down?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one single-handed reason that brings a website down. There are many different big and small mishaps that can bring your site down faster than you can say “dude, where’s my site?” Fortunately, a lot of the causes are very common and easy to solve.
1. Broken Code
If you’re using WordPress and your site goes offline, it’s likely that there is a conflict with the code of a plugin or theme.
2. Server/Hosting Maintenance
Every once in awhile, web hosting companies have to perform maintenance on their hardware or software. To do this, they have to deliberately take your site down for a bit.
Web hosting companies will usually notify their customers of any updates they are doing and will schedule maintenance during off-peak hours. However, this isn’t always possible if companies have clients in different time zones.
Don’t worry if your site goes down because of server maintenance. This is only temporary and when it comes back up it will be better than ever.
3. Traffic Spike
Increased traffic to your website is the dream, right? Well, most hosting plans are equipped to handle a certain amount of web traffic. If your website suddenly experiences an influx of traffic—say you wrote a blog post that went viral—it could crash.
If you’re on a shared hosting plan, your website can also go down if someone else’s website experiences an increase in traffic. This is called the “bad neighbour effect.” This doesn’t happen too frequently but it is possible.
4. Website Attack
A DDoS attack, or Distributed Denial of Service, occurs when a hacker sends an overwhelming amount of traffic (usually from spam bots and virus software) to your website in order to bring it down. Once your website is offline, it’s easier for a hacker to take control of your website through the backend—especially if you don’t have proper security measures in place.
5. Free Hosting
Testing out a free hosting service? Unfortunately, a lot of free hosting services experience significant downtime and can’t handle substantial traffic levels. This is why they come with no cost (other than the frustration of your site being down).
6. Expired Domain
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the hosting of your domain is separate from the hosting of your website. This means if your domain expires and you don’t renew it, your website will stop showing up.
Now, what do you do if your website goes down?
1. Confirm it’s offline.
Verify the website is truly down and that it’s not just a glitch in a specific browser on a specific computer. Clear your cache and try opening up the website in a different browser from the one you are using. If it still doesn’t show up, ask a friend to test out the URL.
2. Find out why it’s offline.
Check out the six causes above and determine if one of them is responsible for bringing your website down. The sooner you can find out the cause, the sooner you can find a solution.
3. Reach out to customer support.
Sometimes the reason your website is down may not be so obvious. Get in touch with your web hosting company’s support team and see if they can help you handle the issue. A quality host will have 24/7 customer service and will work with you to solve the problem as fast as possible.
4. Let your users or customers know.
If you have a large following that visits or uses your website regularly, notify them of your website outage through an email or social media post. Don’t leave them confused, and notify them as soon as your website is back up.
Nobody wants their website to go down, even if it’s merely momentary. If you’re not tech-savvy, it can be especially frazzling to see that your website is simply not working. Use the tips above to help you minimize downtime as much as possible. Most importantly, it’s important to go with a reliable web hosting provider that can handle your website needs.
Tune in to our next blog post on how to prevent your website from going down in the first place. And of course, if you have any questions regarding website downtime, feel free to ask us in the comments below!