Why Websites Crash and How to Stop Them From Crashing

3 min. read

One of the most irritating things that can happen to a website owner is a website crash. Why? Because every second your website is down, especially if you have an e-commerce business, you're losing money.

Here are a few statistics to consider:
  • More than 50% of web users expect your site to load in three seconds or less.
  • A one-second delay in website speed can result in an 11% decrease in traffic.
  • 46% of users don't revisit a low-performing website.
In a way, a website crash is similar to a store locking its doors during open hours. But apart from losing money, you're also losing customer trust, which can be detrimental in the long-term.

In this post, we'll explain what website crash is, what causes it, and how you can prevent it from happening in the future.

What Is a Website Crash?

When a website crashes, it means that it stops serving data. The resources you have on your sites, such as images, blogs, or videos, become unavailable to the user.

Websites crashing means that something went wrong. There are a few different ways of how a website can crash, including code error, plugin problems, and expired domain, among others.

A website is the window of the business. It's how a company communicates with clients. So every second the site is not operational, the business is experiencing missed opportunities.

Website crash can have a range of negative consequences on any business, including:
  • Negative user experience.
  • A drop in the company's reputation and credibility.
  • Reduced search engine rankings.
  • Lost revenue.

One example of a website crash is the website crash of United Airlines. In 2017, all domestic flights were forced to ground due to a massive downtime outage. It lasted for more than two hours. The consequences of the debacle were significant. The airline faced large amounts of lost revenue and customer dissatisfaction. The client base that it took decades to build got shattered in a matter of two hours.

What Are the Most Common Causes of a Website Crash?

Cause #1: Code Errors

Any software engineer can confirm this: code is delicate. Even one small mistake can crash entire websites. That's what happened to Amazon's servers in 2017. The servers that were part of S3, Amazon’s popular web hosting service, suddenly crashed, causing sites like Quora and Trello to be down for a few hours. The cause? A typo. If you or a developer were recently doing an update or conducting maintenance on the site's code, there's a good chance this is the problem.

Solution

To fix this issue, you'll need an experienced developer, if you're not one yourself. The developer must conduct a careful analysis of where the code issue may be in order to get the site back up and running. If you made updates, then that's a good place to start.

Cause #2: Plugin Problems

Every website needs a plugin. Whether it's a social media plugin or a comment section plugin, they exist to add functionality to a website. Plugins boost user experience and improve a site's performance. But as beneficial plugins are, they can be dangerous. Many of these plugins are developed by third parties and are not always safely built.

Solution

The first thing you can do is to delete the plugins that you installed right before the website crashed. To prevent plugins from messing with your site's health in the future, try to have as few as possible installed for your website. Pick a few useful ones that are essential for your business and delete the rest. Make sure the plugins you keep are always updated and compatible with your CMS.

Cause #3: Expired Domain

One missed domain renewal is all it takes for your website to go down. An expired domain can hurt your business, disappoint your users, and could end up costing you thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Solution

The solution to an expired domain is simple. Go to your hosting account and renew the domain. To prevent this from happening in the future, set your domain to auto-renew. You can also set a reminder to your phone or calendar a few weeks before the expiry date.

Cause #4: Hosting Provider/Server Error

Every website is hosted on a server somewhere, managed by a hosting provider. And that host can be facing some issues that are out of their control, like severe weather. In other cases, website crashes can happen when something goes wrong on the website's server and results in an HTTP Error 500. Moreover, 502 Error is another server-side error that can lead to downtime, which happens when one server receives an invalid response from another server. Or, the hosting provider might be ongoing maintenance. If this is the case, you might see a 503 Error.

Solution

What you can do is ask your provider to reach out if any major outages happen in the future, so you're not left wondering what went wrong. Also, if you believe that you're not working with the most stable provider, find a more reliable one to avoid hosting provider errors in the future. The best way to locate a top-notch host is by doing thorough research that includes reading reviews and checking with people who have experience working with both good and bad hosts.

Cause #5: Traffic Spike

Every website owner dreams about a traffic spike. It's simple: more traffic equals more sales. However, if your website is unprepared to accommodate a surge in web traffic, you can lose more than you can gain. Traffic surges can cause websites to slow down and eventually crash.

Solution

Don't fret if this is the case with your website. There are a few ways to minimize the risk of high online traffic crashing your website. One way is by optimizing the performance of your website. You can do so by using a content distribution network (CDN). Another thing you can do is upgrade your hosting plan to include more resources.

Cause #6: Website Attack

Did you know that there's a hacker attack every 30 seconds? What's more, 43% of hackers attack small business websites. Small businesses are especially vulnerable because they can't afford a high-level IT staff, lack a backup plan, and have inadequate network security.

Not only can these hackers crash your website, but they can also collect your customers' private data.

Solution

What you can do to protect your small business is to properly configure network security and use antivirus software. Keep your software and plugins updated. Another thing to do is to consider backing up all your data as protection against attacks. Website security is one of the most important thing to prevent crashes.

Cause #7: DNS Errors

One of the best things about DNS is that it eliminates the need for humans to memorize IP addresses. DNS is how users find your website on the internet. And in some cases, DNS issues might be the cause of the website crash. For example, in 2016, (DDoS) attacks on the DNS provider, Dyn, caused Twitter, Spotify, Shopify, and other websites to be inaccessible to many users throughout the day.

Solution

Check with your hosting provider to see if they have been experiencing a malicious attack. Or if not, ask them whether they have recently made any changes. If yes, then the only thing you can do is sit and wait for the update to take place. You can also check your nameservers to see if they're pointing to the correct place. An expired domain can also cause the issue, as well as a new hosting provider.

Final Word

Website crashing can negatively affect any business, so it is essential to understand what it means and how it can be prevented.

To sum up, here are the few things to do to ensure your website stays up and running at all times:
  • When doing code changes, make sure the code is correct and there are no typos. Invest in a skilled developer to avoid this from happening.
  • Have as few as possible plugins installed for your site. Pick a few useful ones that are essential for your business and delete the rest. Make sure the plugins you keep are always updated and compatible with your CMS.
  • Set your domain to auto-renew to avoid downtimes due to an expired domain. You can also set a reminder to your phone or calendar a few weeks before the expiry date.
  • Find a reliable provider with good reviews online to avoid experiencing downtimes.
  • Optimize your website's performance so that you don't experience website crashes due to a surge in traffic. You can do so by using a content distribution network (CDN) or upgrading your hosting plan to include more resources.
  • Properly configure network security and use antivirus software. Keep your software and plugins updated. Another thing to do is to consider backing up all your data as protection against attacks.

Finally, don't forget to invest in proper website maintenance services. Website maintenance, when done right, can tell you if any technical issues exist on your site, help you improve your search engine optimization, and boost your conversion rate.

Think of your site as a complex machine, similar to a car, that needs regular website maintenance to work at its best. If you take good care of it, it will take you a long way.

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