Whether you find most of your customers online or only some of them, you need your website to stay up and functional all the time. Suffering a little downtime may not cost a small business the kind of money that a large one would lose (Amazon lost about $3 million when its site went down for a couple of hours in 2008). Having a website that’s nonfunctional at times, however, can cause some loss of business, serious loss of face and hits to search engine rankings.
Any small business invested in a website needs to keep on top of how well its hosting service does in the uptime department.
Learn to read those uptime numbers
Hosting services usually publish uptime guarantees expressed as percentages. Many leading services such as the AS400 server major Source Data Products, for instance, guarantee a 99.95% rate. While a failure rate of no more than 0.05% is the best available today, it’s important to understand that it still means about 4 hours of downtime each year.
If you allow yourself to sign up to a company that even offers 99.8%, it quadruples your downtime risk to about 16 hours a year. It’s important to not be casual about uptime claims.
Claims may be nice, but you need to verify
Past the 99% mark, every fraction of a percentage point of improvement can be very challenging for hosting companies to achieve, and it can easy for some to make up numbers. If you are serious about having your website stay up for as long as possible, you need to invest in independent website uptime monitoring. There are plenty of well-respected services. Names such as StatusCake, Uptime Robot and Host Tracker are popular.
While checking your website from one location does help, it’s important to understand that availability at one location does not guarantee availability at every location. Services such as Monitor Scout and Host Tracker check websites from multiple locations all over the world to ensure availability. Using one of these services is vital to keeping your website up and running.
It’s important to put some research into finding the right verification service. Different services offer different checking intervals, and notification methods. Go with an option that offers flexibility and frequent checks.
Plan for redundancy
Small businesses usually find that it’s enough to simply sign up with any large, well-respected hosting service provider. When your business begins to expand, however, it can make sense to plan redundancy by having your website hosted over a content delivery network – a spreadout hosting service that puts copies of your website on servers at different locations across the country or the world to ensure quick access. When you plan redundancy to your system in this way, failure at one point will usually not affect consumers everywhere.
Jade Harvey has had her own website for the past 15 years, and does all of the maintenance tasks herself. She writes how-to articles for other webmasters who need some pointers on what to do and what to look out for in keeping their site online.