What are the Most Common Causes of Website Downtime?

Posted on by Jake Fellows | Updated:
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When it comes to technology, few things are more frustrating than a website that doesn’t load properly or is down entirely.

For both the visitor and the site publisher, such an experience is greeted with almost the exact same reaction:

What in the world is going on and why is it happening?”

Web users expect websites to work properly, even correlating loyalty and frequency of visit to performance and speed.

Most users don’t realize that a website being offline can be the result of a number of factors or causes. From infrastructure challenges to code issues, website downtime can originate in a number of ways.

why does website downtime matter

Why Downtime Matters in the First Place

Website downtime impacts more than just the site visitor’s immediate experience. When a website is offline, there is a waterfall effect of consequences that can be far-reaching and devastating.

Consider a site visitor that is looking to find information about a new movie they would like to see. They visit a movie review site and find it is not online. Studies show that most visitors won’t simply leave the offline website but rather that they will leave the original offline website AND find what they are looking for somewhere else.

Potential long-term loyalty and goodwill is out the window because another website was available with the information that was needed.

Now consider an eCommerce site that sells a particular product or service. Yes, the first consequence of an offline website is a missed sales opportunity. But the real effect is much, much greater. One missed sale turns into a lost customer, a customer that likely seeks out a competitor to fill their needs both now and in the future.

Additionally, brand reputation is impacted as visitors are unlikely to recommend or even mention a website that is offline. Why should they? Why would they say nice things to other people about a website that wasn’t online when they visited?

An offline website isn’t just about missed expectations right in that exact moment, but also about missed potential and possibility for days, weeks, or even months to come.

most common causes of website downtime

The Most Common Causes of Website Downtime

Minimizing downtime is critical to your site’s reputation and the reputation of your business.

Understanding how and why your site might go offline is the first step to making sure you don’t face any challenges in the future. Furthermore, knowing what the most likely culprit is in the instance of downtime is the best way to ensure that you can quickly and completely remedy the situation, returning things to normal for site traffic and business growth.

Here are the three most common causes of website downtime and what you can do as a site owner to prevent outages from happening to you.

Bad Actors

From DDoS attacks to malicious hackers, there are literally thousands upon thousands of people and bots out there looking to take your website offline.

Reasons for this could include:

  • The desire to steal data
  • Trying to extort the site owner for their own gain
  • To cause chaos and ruin someone else’s day

Regardless of the reason, DDoS attacks and website hacks are a major threat to even the smallest websites.

TIP: The best way to protect your website from hacks and attacks is to update your software, utilize malware scanning tools, and choose a host that can help reduce the impact of DDoS-related traffic surges.

Technology Issues

One of the more common reasons a website might go offline stems from the code that actually runs the site itself. From the content management system to the actual code developed for the site, the smallest error can cause the site to not load properly.

There are enough external threats to worry about without causing downtime yourself.

TIP: The best way to prevent technology related downtime is to develop in a staging environment or on a local machine, test any code changes thoroughly, and only then push the changes to production and the live website.

Infrastructure Problems

Even with clean code and strong security, your website still may go offline due to an infrastructure problem. From too much disk space in use to too little memory on the server, the underlying infrastructure you are using can potentially cause your website to go offline.

Above and beyond issues with servers and virtual machines, there can also be problems with datacenter connectivity and power.

  • Power supplies fail
  • Fiber lines end up accidentally severed
  • Things happen at the physical level that can take your site offline

Having a hosting partner that manages and monitors your entire environment leaves little to chance.

TIP: Choose a hosting provider that manages your infrastructure not just through software updates, but also at the physical level as well.

Minimizing the Risk of Website Downtime

The good news is that each of these potential uptime interrupters can be neutralized via tried and true best practices. Simple security steps, intelligent code deployment, managed hosting… each of these choices greatly increases the chance that your website will stay online.

Conversely, avoiding additional security, recklessly deploying code, and choosing a server that is misfit and unmanaged for your needs makes it a matter of when – not if – your website will go offline.

minimize downtime with managed hosting

Liquid Web Guarantees 100% Power and Network Uptime

Here at Liquid Web we provide true partnership for hosting your website. From helping build the right solution for your needs to caring for your infrastructure twenty-four hours every day, our mission is to ensure that your website stays online to thrill your visitors.

Backed by the only 100% network uptime guarantee, our team of the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting work each and every day to keep your digital properties operating at peak levels. Contact us here to learn more about how Liquid Web can make downtime a thing of the past.

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About This Hand-Crafted Article

This post is written by Jake Fellows, an experienced hosting professional with 10+ years of expertise in the technology industry. As Liquid Web’s Product Operations Specialist, Jake has helped support thousands of websites, engineering solutions to ensure continuous uptime. Our in-house technical writers have also approved this article for accuracy.

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About the Author

Jake Fellows

Jake Fellows is the Sophisticated Hosting Product Manager for Liquid Web's Managed Hosting products and services. He has over 10 years experience involving several fields of the technology industry, including hosting, healthcare, and IT-system architecture. On his time off, he can be found in front of some form of screen enjoying movies, video games, or researching into one of his many technical side projects.

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