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Keeping Your Site Up and At ‘Em: 5 Tips to Maintain Site Availability

Kevin Dailey • February 4, 2015

The world is always on, and that means your store needs to be too. Whenever your store goes down or is unavailable to your customers, it translates into possible lost revenue and even lost customers returning to your site. As an eCommerce owner, you must be very careful to mitigate the effect of such occurrences on your site.24 hours

There are two major threats to your site’s availability: attacks the lead to no visitors and an influx of traffic that leads to too many visitors. A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is typically seen as any attempt from multiple sources to deny or delay the availability of network resources for legitimate users, ultimately blocking visitors to your site. An influx of traffic can happen because of a beneficial occurrence like a mention of your product on national TV or a great promotion that brings more traffic than the website is designed to handle. The great news is that there are steps you can take to limit the impact of both instances:

  1. Ramp up the Resources. Establishing more resources for your web server than you necessarily need is a good way to accommodate an influx in traffic of your site. While more resources will not certainly prevent DDoS attacks, it could buy you time to react to the situation.
  1. Invest in a support relationship. It is crucial to have individuals on hand that know what they’re doing and can handle issues as they arise. A best in class support organization like LYONSCG’s OSC (Operations Support Center) is staffed with individuals on both the application and hosting sides that in most cases will notice an issue before customers and immediately begin remediation to limit the impact.
  1. Create static pages. In an instance where your site is attacked, it may become inoperable, especially if it relies heavily on the ability to communicate with its database. This could cause unsightly 503 or 404 pages to be displayed to your users, resulting in a less than optimal experience. A static page with your company’s logo and a brief message can deliver important information to them, rather than a blank white page or unsightly error. Static pages can also be useful in situations where the website is overwhelmed by genuine traffic. Configuring these pages in such a way that the estimated level of traffic above the capacity of the environment is directed towards them would be far more positive than the website being unavailable for all users.
  1. Enhance monitoring. It’s entirely possible that while your website is not specifically targeted, one of your partners such as the payment gateway may suffer such an attack. Ensure that your monitoring points not only check your website but the third party integrations as well. Detecting breaches before the majority of your customers do gives you the ability to put measures in place that will result in a far better experience than a standard error message.
  1. Start planning for hiccups now. We would recommend the creation of a plan and reviewing it quarterly as the landscape inevitably changes to account for those new threats. Directed testing against your environment, otherwise known as load or capacity testing, should also be done so you are aware of how much genuine traffic your website can successfully manage. Knowing this estimated number can make all the difference in how successful your marketing initiatives are for your website. Should additional infrastructure be needed, planning for it in advance will have you ready to fully maximize the potential of your marketing efforts.

Related Reading

  • Web Hosting and Handling Traffic Surges – Discover how some sophisticated server load adjustments and database work enabled the Tom Petty official site to enroll new fan club members and sell advance tickets to the Summer 2014 tour.

To learn more about how to maintain your site availability, please contact us.

 


Kevin Dailey

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Kevin Dailey

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