Most website owners want to increase their website traffic and have more people interact with their business daily. More traffic equals more opportunities to generate leads, more sales, encourage email sign-ups, and do other actions you may want your website visitors to make.
However, too much traffic when your website isn’t ready to handle it can be a problem. A large influx of traffic can lead to a website crash, elements not loading properly, and other problems that can negatively affect user experience and put your website’s security at risk.
In this article, we will go over how you can prevent your website from crashing even during large influxes of traffic, the causes for a crashed website, how high traffic can affect website performance, and how a content delivery network (CDN) can help prevent future crashes.
What is a website crash?
To put it simply a website crash is when your website stops serving files to your visitors, these files can be front-end HTML, CSS, or JSS code that is used to give your visitors text and visuals or backend code managing your website’s databases and security.
Website crashes are an indication that something went wrong and users will be unable to access the content on the crashed website. In some cases, even website administrators will have problems logging into the website to attempt to fix the problem.
What causes a website to crash?
There are many reasons for a website to crash, while this article will focus on how to prevent crashes due to a high influx of traffic, other reasons for website crashes include:
- Code errors
- Problems with specific plugins
- An expired domain name
- Problems with your website’s hosting provider
- A sudden traffic spike
- DDOS attacks
- DNS Errors
These are the most common causes for a website crash other than a sudden influx of web traffic.
How High Traffic Can Crash An Unprepared Website?
High traffic to your website can lead to your website being unable to process the mass number of requests for files hosted on your website’s server which can lead to server issues and other problems leading to an entire website crash.
To put it simply, your website’s hosting server can’t process the requests from the increased traffic fast enough which will lead to server memory problems and an eventual website crash. You can think of the server’s processor as a traditional printer, while you can request to print over a thousand copies eventually the paper will run out, the ink will deplete, or something else will go wrong.
How can I prevent my website from crashing?
Using Google’s analytics or other website traffic analytics software, you can determine your site’s traffic patterns over an extended period of time and identify traffic patterns. This helps find sources of traffic and possible ways to address server issues.
As we know, most website crashes occur from faulty website servers or from server-level problems.
If a website’s hosting server is inadequate it is more likely to crash due to a high influx of website traffic. However, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of your website crashing due to high traffic. Some options include:
- Regular server maintenance
- Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Optimize files
- Switch To A Reliable Hosting Server
Run server maintenance
Regular server maintenance can ensure the security and uptime of your website. Often a web host imposes data caps on the storage of incoming data for the protection of their web server without revealing them explicitly.
If your website hosting provider gives you the flexibility to manage your hosting server make sure that all the software is up to date and settings are tweaked to best fit your needs. If your website averages 100 users per hour, try to ensure that it will stay operational at 1000 users per hour.
Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Content delivery networks (CDN – content delivery networks) cache the content of your website and store it on devices all over the world and serves them from the server closest to the user. The content starts on the hosting server but then gets copied to other devices and cached for quicker access and utilizes other server processors reducing the strain of serving your website on 1 server only. There are many popular CDN providers like Amazon and Cloudflare that can greatly improve the loading speed of your website and even improve security and technical SEO.
Proper planning prevents poor performance
Sometimes you need to prepare for the worst-case scenario and take precautions to ensure that doesn’t happen. To do this you can use load testing tools to simulate traffic spikes. This information will allow you to find slower-loading pages and elements of your website to make optimizations. You can also use other tools to reduce the file sizes of your HTML, CSS, and JS files which will improve your site’s performance.
Re-Evaluate The Value Of Your Hosting Service And Look Into An Alternative Hosting Provider
A major factor in preventing your website from crashing due to high traffic is the quality of your website’s hosting provider. If your website host is overcrowded with other websites and doesn’t allocate enough resources to match your website’s needs it may struggle when large influxes of traffic visit your website.
If your server is naturally slow or if you know there are plenty of other websites being hosted on the same server, it is time to reevaluate your hosting server and either possibly migrate your website to a new host or upgrade your hosting plan.
How do I prepare my website for heavy traffic?
Now that you know how to prevent website crashes due to high traffic, how can you prepare for high traffic? If you plan on doing an extensive promotion and expect a sudden spike in website traffic, you need to make sure your website can handle the increased load.
While a load testing tool can help you find the slowest loading parts of your website, there are other ways to prepare for a large influx of web traffic. One of the best ways you can prepare is to ensure that you’re using a CDN to serve users geographically far away from your original hosting server’s location. A user’s physical location can play a large role in how long it takes for assets to load for them and a CDN reduces the distance required to reach the same files. This greatly lightens the load placed on your server and can even improve your maximum real-time users by over 100 times.
An expected traffic spike can also be prepared for by contacting your hosting provider and letting them know about a short-term traffic spike. This way they can also prepare for a surge of traffic and can reduce downtime for other websites on the same servers. This is especially important when using a shared hosting plan.
Backing Up Your Website Data
It is also very important to back up your website’s files in case it does crash you can always revert it back to how it was before the crash. Daily backups are a reliable way to ensure that if your website does go down due to heavy traffic you will quickly be able to get your website back up and running. If you built your website using content management systems like WordPress, there are plenty of backup plugins to choose from that don’t hinder or slow site performance.
If you want to learn more about how you can prevent your website from crashing or other ways to improve your SEO check out the rest of our blog.