4 Ways to Maximize Website Uptime
Downtime is a killer for any web business. When your site or application goes down sales are lost, credibility is hurt, and you might just make a user mad enough to tell all their friends about it. You want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to avoid downtime — right?
Discussions about maximizing uptime and availability usually center on a few main backend components. Hosting providers boast about their guaranteed uptime percentages, and operations teams constantly monitor components like databases and application servers. These are certainly important pieces of a website or application that deserve due attention. But when the uptime/availability conversation sticks on these well-traveled routes, it can come at the expense of other steps you can take that help to guarantee that your site is up and available as much as possible.
Here are four ways to improve uptime that you may have overlooked.
1. Cut Down Complexity on the Front End
- A bad CSS file can alter the appearance of the entire page, thereby making the site useless.
In cases like these, all is well as far as the operations team or hosting provider is concerned, but according to the user (the only person who matters) the site is down.
Fewer assets = fewer points of failure = more uptime.
3. Improve DNS
DNS service is something that’s easy to forget about. It’s often provided by a hosting provider or domain registry and packaged with other services. But the fact that it’s not so highly visible says nothing of its importance: it’s the first step in the process of a visitor accessing your site. If DNS service is down, your site is down.
Upgraded DNS services with “”Anycast”” technology have automatic failover to other servers on the network if the closest server goes down. That guarantees 100 percent uptime for DNS. These services cost slightly more than the pre-packaged offerings from hosters and registries, but at less than 50 dollars a year it’s a tiny price to pay for the security that this important stage in delivery is guaranteed to work.
4. Use a CDN
The performance benefit of a content delivery network (CDN) is well documented: caching files closer the client will help users around the world see faster load times, offering a better user experience. But did you know that a solid CDN can also effectively eliminate downtime due to server overload?
When a CDN is activated a high percerntage of bandwidth – potentially up to 98% – usage is offloaded to the network. That leaves your origin servers free to handle important transactions (like a cart checkout) unencumbered by the task of serving up dozens of images and other static content each time a page is requested. With a CDN smoothing out demand, downtime due to high traffic is exceedingly rare. Even bot attacks that seek to bring down a site can be prevented with a CDN.
If you’ve considered a CDN in the past but been put off by the prices, take another look. The CDN market has broadened and commoditized considerably in the past few years, and CDN services are now available from dozens of vendors at price points far smaller than when the market was in its infancy.
Uptime is just one component of performance – for more on maximizing uptime and to learn more about how performance affects your user experience and business metrics, check out our eBook: A Beginner’s Guide to Web Performance.