Today’s blog post focuses on system outages and website downtime. We look at the importance of identifying the cause of the issue and ways to prepare for and respond to website downtime in the event that it occurs for you.
What is a system outage?
Put simply, a system outage or “downtime”, is a period when a system is not available, or fails to perform.
On Sunday 2 August 2020 leading Australian telecommunications provider Telstra experienced an internet outage that affected millions of customers Australia-wide. This article from Information Age Australia explains that at first it was thought to have been a cyberattack, but upon further investigation, it was discovered that it was in fact a Domain Name Server (DNS) issue.
Website downtime is a type of outage that many of us may have experienced first hand, whether as the customer or as the provider. As explained by IT Management software review provider Tek-Tools, the top 3 causes of website downtime are server side issues (eg a server overload), a cyberattack (such as a DDoS attack) or software/hardware related issues (eg coding errors or outdated plugins). Once the cause of the downtime has been identified, the issue can be correctly addressed.
Preparing for and responding to website downtime
Patel explains that there are many ways to prevent and be prepared for your website to experience downtime including by backing up your database, investing in a monitoring service and keeping your domain name registration up to date to ensure that it does not expire.
He goes on to suggest the best process to adhere to in acknowledging and responding to website downtime is:
- Confirm your site has gone down
- Try to determine the cause
- Contact your hosting company or IT support
- Notify users of the outage
- Regularly check in with your IT team; and
- Stay calm
In an increasingly online world with heavy internet traffic and more complex systems, potential system/website downtime is a reality for even the most advanced providers. If an outage does occur, it is important for the provider to identify the cause, follow a process in responding to the issue and determine the best way for it to be resolved. Take the steps to avoid a similar issue from occurring again in the future, and check all other parts of the system for vulnerabilities to minimise the overall risk.
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