You’re excited. You finally got your website up and running, and your business is now officially online and competitive. It’s all good, you’re getting visitors, and reaping the rewards of having a great website with marketability.
Then in the midst of a busy day, it happens: you go to your website, and all you see is black text on a blank white background that says This page cannot be displayed or even worse, This site has been hacked. Whatever the type and meaning of the message, all it says to you is This is not good.
Site downtime is far from uncommon, and a constant challenge for the data center that hosts your website. All website traffic is channeled through data centers, which use the latest technology to keep servers running, websites up and data flowing. Truth be told, most downtime events are a normal part of data flow and go unnoticed. That’s because in 99.9% of these events, downtime is so short that the effect is like a flickering candle, the flame may waver but the candle keeps burning. It’s the other .1 percent of the time where something unexpected will go wrong.
Causes of these .1 percent events vary. According to venturebeat.com, 40 percent of service interruptions are caused by power failure, 25 percent are hardware failure, and 13 percent are software failure (bad configurations).
Then there’s the human element. People cause a large amount of downtime, either through innocent error or that villain in the dark room, The Hacker. The scary truth about hackers is that not only are they a growing threat, their tactics along with their motivations are evolving. A good illustration of this evolution is Ransomware, the new kid on the hacker block. This blatant data extortion is also on the rise, with Symantec reporting a 113% increase in 2014.
Regardless of the cause, the costs of downtime can be staggering. This sobering infographic breaks down the financial impact of website downtime on businesses while offering some great tips on dealing with this problem. This one paints an even bleaker scenario. One astounding fact that stands out: just .5 percent of downtime a year equates to 44 hours, more than a standard work week!
Keep in mind that although service interruptions may impact you through lost revenue, productivity or data, you’re not the only one. Countless companies have and will experience downtime. Big boys like Amazon, Facebook and even Google have gone offline to the tune of millions of dollars.
Fortunately, most .1 percent downtime events are still relatively brief, lasting only a few minutes – but this may soon change. Thanks to the explosion of mobile devices, global traffic is seeing a steep rise, placing a greater burden on the internet infrastructure (and ISPs), thus requiring more and larger data centers. According to Nokia, by 2020 global traffic will be 1000 times greater than it was in 2010, with the majority of that use being on mobile devices. More data, more centers, more chances for something to go wrong.
However, all is not lost. There are things you can do to mitigate a downtime disaster for your business:
1) He who laughs last has a backup. Back up your files regularly, but subscribe to the old adage Never keep your eggs in one basket and store your data both on a local hard drive and in cloud storage.
2) Uptime is prime time. Choose an internet hosting provider with a proven track record of stability and an uptime guarantee, then at least your site will be up most of the time. Here are some good providers to consider.
3) A healthy system is a happy system. Do not skimp on quality malware and firewall protection, here are some great options. It’s also helpful to add a second layer of site back end access protocols, and CAPTCHA fields on all your contact forms.
Some of these measures apply to not only your website files, but to all your files stored locally as well. Thinking locally, other steps you may consider include: ensuring you have a fast and stable internet connection, automated system monitoring and efficient heating and cooling systems.
Your site going down is not a question of if, it’s a question of when. You need to be ready for such an event, as the impact of downtime can only be diminished by proper preparation. The core of your business is made of – and runs on – tiny bits of information. Lose them, and you may very well lose your business.