I have been ‘banging on’ about the quality of hosting for years now. When I come across a story that highlights this matter I can’t help but mention it.
Apparently, the servers that run the voter registration system on the Government’s own servers crashed last night; within 2 hours of the deadline to register.
The government has taken the rather unusual step of extending the deadline to vote, getting very close the deadline to do so to allow local authorities to check the applications in a bid to stop vote rigging etc. I’m not sure that has ever happened before, let us hope that the younger target voters respond accordingly.
Back to the main point. If your website crashes due to server load or “spikes” in traffic numbers then your website disappears. If you sell online or have messaging that is visitor critical then this has to be a very bad thing.
If your website shares a server with other high hitting websites, then you could be at the mercy of the traffic loads on those other websites, as it will be the whole server, including your website, that goes offline while the server struggles to deal with simultaneous connections.
Database driven websites can generally handle thousands of users interacting with a website at one time but, as has been proven in this instance, your server is only as good as its software, capacity, setup and fail over protection.
Your hosting provider should be able to give you a stable platform that can take various actions to reduce the likelihood of downtime. These actions include for example, load balancing. When a website is hit hard by numbers, it can siphon off some of them to a duplicate copy sitting on another separate server, or multiple ones if required.
It can also be made to “slow” the connection numbers by “throttling” the traffic and visitors will notice a slow down but it will still eventually work without falling over and needing human intervention.
In reality, most business websites will not have these issues, unless your website is a high hitting ecommerce platform. So you don’t need to unduly worry.
My main worry is that with websites becoming more complex, with multiple levels of software running at once, and imagery and multi media now being the norm, the problem will only get worse as the load put on servers is, in general, increasing.
The question is: Can your business cope with your website being offline? If it can’t then you need to investigate proper commercial hosting solutions from someone like our preferred supplier, Rackspace.
We pay a lot of money per month for our four dedicated servers. I do this not because I like paying a lot of money, but to ensure that I can sleep at night knowing our hosting is robust, stable and has superb support available should there be any problems.
Worth looking at yours maybe?