When Manchester City announced the signing of Pep Guardiola this week as their manager, the unusually high traffic to the club's website made it crash. Ouch! That must hurt the technical team of such a big club. However, they had a damage control strategy that helped them overcome the crash with limited damage.
There is no way you can totally ensure that your website can't be crashed. The amount of traffic you estimated to get during your big publicity moment may go wrong or your data centre could go down because of a natural disaster but you can make your website more stable by following a few tips.
1. Choose the right hosting
It is important to choose the right host and the hosting plan. When you're expecting high traffic, you can't go for a shared hosting plan as you will be needing a fast processor, lot of RAM, a fast storage device, SSD and high bandwidth. A dedicated hosting plain is a good option when you expect high traffic.
2. Use a CDM
CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of servers that deliver cached static content from websites to users based on the geographic location of the user. CDN distributes the load to multiple servers instead of letting your main server take the entire traffic thus making it less likely to crash.
3. Test your website & its performance
It is important to test the software that powers your website. Old versions may have bugs that can lead to website crashes. The other important thing to test is the performance of the website when subjected to simulated high traffic. The test results can help in deciding what should be improved and if it makes sense to increase the server capacity.
A website crash is going to leave a negative impression of your brand on the users' mind and you're going to lose business quickly but the good part of it is it's not happening only to you and a properly devised damage control strategy will help in overcoming the crash.
What can you do when your website goes down?
1. Check your host
If your website has crashed, always check your host. Your host may be experiencing problems (Here is an example). In that case, you should get in touch with their support team directly and it can help you decide whether to continue with the same provider in the future depending on the quality of support they provide and time they take to sort things out.
2. Find out the root cause of the crash
Finding out the root cause of the crash can help in sorting the problem and getting your website back up and running. Some of the common problems that cause website crashes are
Overwhelming demand (Extremely high traffic)
Server maintenance by your hosting provider
Network configuration issues
Natural disasters causing troubles to your data centers
Mistakes in your website's code
3. Communicate using other mediums (Inform the users about the crash)
Inform your user base via social media that your website has got so popular and the unexpected high traffic made the site crash. Also let them know that you're working non-stop to sort things out quickly. Making them aware that you're working to make sure the problem is solved quickly and these sort of troubles don't occur again will reduce the damage and prevent the customers from getting an impression about your company as a careless company.
4. Stop advertising online temporarily
Advertising online when your website has crashed is not just going to waste your advertising budget but also creates a bad reputation when users click on the ad just to see a crashed website. Hold the pause button when it comes to online advertising when your website has crashed.
Being prepared for the next time starts by acknowledging the problems that has caused crashes in the past. Analyze the root causes and develop a proper website testing, load testing programs and a testing schedule.
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