What Is Website Downtime? [5 Common Causes]
# website monitoring

What Is Website Downtime? [5 Common Causes]

Are you wondering what website downtime is? It's certainly something you don't want to happen to your website, and put simply, website downtime is the time where your site is considered to not be functioning well enough for you and your users.

It's a challenging situation to be in, but hopefully by me teaching you a little more about website downtime you'll be in a better position to handle it.

So in this blog post, I'm going to tell you everything you need to know, and tell you:

  • The main causes that cause a website to go down
  • Ways in which to avoid the possibility of your website going down
  • Where to find the best website monitoring tools to monitor whether your site is down

Are you ready? Let's take a look...

What are the common causes of website downtime?

causes of website down time

There are many reasons that cause downtime with a website, some of them can be controlled whilst others are simply out of your control (like server maintenance by your hosting provider)

Server maintenance

Your website runs on what's called a server. This is essentially a high specification computer which is designed to accommodate a high quantity of users connecting to the server at any one given time.

However...

Sometimes, maintenance and chores needs to be carried out on these servers which will mean your website goes down and incurs website downtime.

Fortunately, whoever your website is hosted with (your hosting provider) will try to keep downtime to a minimum and will carry out maintenance works at the times when people aren't trying to visit your website.

Sometimes, server maintenance will take longer than expected, and in these situations you might be able to get a discount or reduction in your monthly server cost as a good will gesture - it's worth discussing with your hosting provider if this is likely to happen.

Human error

Humans make mistakes, and sometimes mistakes aren't noticed for long periods of time, and in these situations your website might be down for longer than you initially thought.

An example of human error with regards to websites is back in early 2017 where there was an AWS outage. Obviously not ideal right?

This is why you need to be using a website monitoring tool to check whether your website is up or down.

Domain name expiry

Right, so this one is one that shouldn't really happen, but can easily be overlooked.

That's your domain name. It's the text or URL you type into the website address bar at the top of your browser, and if your domain has expired you won't be able to get to the website.

If you've got emails, they'll stop working. If you've got more than one system on that domain name communicating with sub-systems then they'll go down too

This is the EXACT reason that you should renew your domain name with your registrar (that's the provider of your domain name you bought it with).

Domain expiry is one of the most common reasons for a website to go down.

Hardware failure

Like vehicles, computers can fail, and when the hardware inside of a computer stops working, it'll cause disruption and downtime for your website.

Think about it...

The components inside of a computer don't last forever, they'll wear out and break. Usually without warning.

There are some things that can be done to extend the life of the hardware inside of a computer, but ultimately it will wear out and break.

An article from Reuters which can be found here outlines how websites went down at amazon which were caused by equipment failure.

Malicious attack (DDoS)

It's an attempt to overwhelm your server with a large quantity of requests to try and bring your site down.

The issue with these kinds of attacks is that they come simultaneously from multiple locations (usually) to try and disguise their identity and prevent you from stopping these attacks.

If your site is under attack from what you believe to be a DDoS attack, obviously a website monitoring tool will help you here, but also by signing up to a service called Cloudflare, they have the functionality to try and stop your website coming under attack.

How can I avoid website downtime?

how to avoid website downtime

While some downtime on your website is likely to happen due to uncontrollable reasons such as website server maintenance, the other causes of downtime can be avoided if you take action now.

Check your domain's expiry date

It sounds so simple doesn't it? Simply check your domain's expiry date.

You're probably wondering though actually how you can go about doing this aren't you?

There's online tools which will allow you to quickly find out when your domain is due to expire so that you don't have to keep remembering.

The problem with these tools is they usually rely on you having to go to that website when you want to check rather than them automatically notifying you of your domain expiry.

One tool you can use is a domain expiry checker tool like ours. We'll check your domain's expiry date and let you know via email and other channels before your domain name expires so you can take action now.

Website monitoring & Uptime monitoring

You've probably heard of these terms floating around on the internet whilst searching for domain tools.

They mean roughly the same as one another. There's loads of website monitoring tools online, some are free whilst others will offer some upgradable functionality by asking you to pay a monthly or yearly subscription.

A website uptime monitor (or availability monitor) will ping your website URL at an interval of your choosing and will report back to the monitoring service which in turn will let you know the status!

Here at the domain monitor you can add a new monitor by signing up and going to the monitors section.

Use version control software

If you're the website owner and are building the website yourself, maybe you've got a Wordpress website and have followed some guide on getting started with Wordpress, you'll want to use version control software.

What is version control?

Version control is the process of holding onto the various code changes that you've made whilst developing your website or blog.

One version control provider you might've heard of is Github. They're by far the most popular when it comes to version control and by adding your website code here in what's called a "commit", you'll be able to "rollback" your site's changes if you make an error.

Conclusion

website downtime the conclusion

Website downtime isn't something you want to experience when starting an online blog or running an online business. Unfortunately, some of the reasons why websites go down can't be controlled.

Others can. This is why it's important to understand some of the most common causes for downtime, and things you can actively do to avoid them.

If you liked this blog post, feel free to share it, and we recommend browsing some of our other posts too!

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