Factors That Affect Uptime

Web server uptime is generally acknowledged as the amount of time a particular web server is available, functional and up. Downtime is the opposite of this. Most businesses find uptime to be a critical function of a website. The more an e-business is consistently available, the more the website can generate traffic and thus sales.

Uptime percentage is the percentage of time that a website is available and functional. Web hosting provider’s uptime always improves when they develop contingency plans to deal with any issues that may arise and could potentially affect the uptime percentage. There are many factors that influence whether a website is up and running.

The factors that affect uptime the most can be broken down into four major areas. These include hardware, software, configuration and strategy. Hardware can have a major impact on speed, reliability, storage ability and overall performance. Common hardware areas affecting uptime include:

  • The infrastructure
  • Communications provided by the ISP
  • Number of central processing units (CPU’s)
  • Storage medium

A high capacity infrastructure can go a long way as it has the ability to handle traffic spikes and future expansion. As hardware and software demands increase over time, capacity becomes a larger issue. By initially finding a good balance between size and cost, this will save money in the long run and allow for servers to remain functional more often.

Unfortunately communications provided by the ISP are difficult to maintain since the ISP is in control. Depending on the needs, it’s best to choose a high quality plan with good performance. In the end, customers will be pleased at the package choice when they receive great performance and high uptime percentages even during a high load.

The number and type of CPU’s can have a major effect on performance. The more CPU’s and higher quality, the faster it can process information within central applications and database servers. Finally, the type and performance of the storage medium can be beneficial for overall performance. Better and faster storage medium can equate to quicker access to information decreasing the load placed on the servers and increasing uptime.

Similar to hardware, software can affect speed, reliability and performance. Ordinary software areas that influence uptime are:

  • The programming of the platform
  • Releases
  • Versions

Well-written code within a platform results in better uptime percentages due to built in contingency mechanisms for potential issues. Staying frequent on new releases and versions of software allows for maximization of programs. New releases and versions iron out any bugs found in the previous versions and create patches to improve performance which decreases server load.

The actual configuration of the equipment affects performance. General configuration areas that impact uptime comprise:

  • Number of clients
  • Number of languages

The number of clients attempting to access a particular website at the same time can greatly influence uptime. A denial of service (DoS) attack overloads a server and causes downtime. This occurs when an individual or individuals send multiple communication requests to a server so it cannot respond to legitimate traffic. The ability to handle a large number of clients will not prevent a DoS attack, but will allow the server to maintain its functionality.

Surprisingly the number of installed languages will affect the uptime. If there are numerous languages installed in the software, the system will have to search through each one potentially causing an overload. This doesn’t mean don’t install languages; perhaps only use the most popular or the primary languages of the target audience.     

Finally, strategy is the most critical aspect to actually keeping the server up and running. A solid strategy will prepare for the worst case scenarios and when they do arrive, the host will be ready. This allows the hosting providers uptime guarantee to be accurate thus improving business. Usual strategies consist of:

  • Upgrade strategy
  • Administration ability

An upgrade strategy should focus on upgrading to minimize downtime and also reduce resources. As websites expand and traffic increases, upgrading is inevitable. With this in mind, all upgrades should focus on those two points to improve the system so that uptime is consistent and also reduce the number of resources used by and increasingly large client base.

The final aspect that affects uptime is the administration controlling the systems. By constantly staying current on new networking technologies and consistently reviewing and upgrading processes, the systems will remain healthy and in top shape. Those that continue to let the systems run as is and only fix the problems will deal with constant downtimes.

These are the primary factors affecting the uptime of websites and servers. Focusing on the four main points; hardware, software, configuration and strategy will allow for smoother running equipment, an improvement in the web hosting provider’s uptime percentages and in the end happier customers.

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