Why Websites Crash and What To Do About It
In 2014, Ellen DeGeneres posted that famous selfie that was retweeted to the point that it literally crashed Twitter. Amazingly, this photo has been retweeted more than 3 million times! Yes, even the big boys are not immune to web disruptions and crashes.
Why Do Websites Crash?
It’s important to understand that many factors make up a functioning website. Your site is a set of files that live on a server. These files are made up of lines of code and scripts that need to be compatible with both the browser and the server. So, when a website fails to load, there could be an issue with either the users’ browser, the site code, or the server. And, if your site has a database, you can add that to the mix as well.
A website could crash for one or more of the following reasons:
- Code on the site is outdated and now conflicts with the hosting server
- The host server is outdated and doesn’t support new code
- Plugins have been installed that conflict with other code on the site, or with the server setup configuration
- A traffic spike has exceeded the capability of the web or database server (ie: Ellen’s famous selfie post)
- The site has been hacked
- The site is under attack, sometimes referred to as a “brute force” attack or a “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)” attack
- Your internet connection is down
- Your domain name has expired
What Can I Do To Prevent This?
You and your web team can take certain actions to prevent downtime. Some of the tasks you can perform are regular maintenance and updates of plugins and other sets of open-source code that you use. Make sure that your site is always updated to the latest CMS version, if you use a CMS like WordPress. Also, never upload any code or scripts that you don’t trust or fully understand.
It’s likely your website will crash again, at some point. So, do you have a recovery plan in place for when that happens?
Initiate a Website Recovery Plan
A solid website recovery plan is the difference between a website that’s down for days and one that’s back up in hours or even minutes. Here are two key elements to a website recovery plan.
You or your web team should have direct, easy access to your website’s FTP/SFTP login. If you have a control panel, make sure your web team has access to that as well.
Make sure your backups are running regularly (at least once a week) and that you store 4 or more backups at a time. Your backups should be stored in a separate location to your web server. DropBox or Amazon Web Services AWS are great options for this. Then, make sure your web team monitors that backups are running.
Check with your team that they know what to do and have a plan for when your website crashes. Make sure they have what they need to get the most recent backup and upload it to your web server as quickly as possible.
Great, but my website is still down! What do I do now?
If your website is down, take a deep breath. Contact your hosting provider, your webmaster, or your tech-savvy friend. If you still need help, feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to look into your issue.