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5 Things to Learn from Nairaland and Other Nigerian Websites

Recently, Nigeria's seventh most popular website went offline for almost 3 days; that is about 72 hours and some other blogs too. It is quite unfortunate but there are lessons that developers and small business owners can learn from this. I feel it is unprofessional to have a website as heavily visited as Nairaland go off that way without doing some necessary things. Part of the signals it sends is that it is probably one man squad behind this web application and he is not running it as a proper business. The business of web deserves more than just hosting an application and believing that all is well. It is a business that involves several processes and structures for a successful ride. I have listed five things below that you can do if your website encounters an outage.

1. Be prepared for server problems

Hosting Companies never assure 100% uptime because they know nothing is 100% sure, so it implies that you need to be prepared for the rainy days. I know many people won’t be bothered if their website is down for 5 minutes or less. Though to others this is a lot of time, if it lasts longer than 5 minutes or 10 minutes you should begin to be worried. In all, you need to understand that servers are also machines and sometimes they have problems, so be prepared and get a strategy to mild the effect.

2. Have a backup routine

Create a backup routine. Create an automated system that backs up your database and files, then send to an external email address. There are some scripts that can do a snapshot of your database for you and send to an email address periodically or you can also use a server to achieve that. The reason for doing this is for data loss; so it won't be so disastrous.

3. Set a temporary page

Set a temporary page to inform your users about what you are experiencing. Since you have your domain name control panel, if your site's outage is taking longer than normal, redirect your users to a temporary server and show them your site is currently under maintenance or whatever. This makes your users to be reassured that you are working on the problem. It is professional and far better than keeping your prospective and old clients in the dark about your website. Some may even feel that your website has been hacked or banned by certain authority. So, instead of leaving them wandering in the wonder world, why not clear the doubt and create a temporary page to tell them what exactly is happening.

4. Engage your registered users

With your regular snapshots, you can pull the email addresses of your registered users and send them an email re-assuring them of your site coming up very soon or you may simply tell them that your website is going through a technical problem which you are currently working on. This would create a channel of communication and would keep them stayed tuned. There is this special feeling that people have about any problem if they are earlier informed about it. So, by engaging members who are registered on your site, you are not only being professional but making them feel special.

5. Purchase an alternative server

You need an alternative server that is not too expensive. Make sure it is not with the same company. This would serve as a fail over server when your main server has an outage. You can even modify your script to push your backup there so you can have a mirror of your site on it. This would enable a fail over plan when there is an outage on your production server.

Whether you run a small business, a blog or a one page website; you need a proper outage plan. Running a website is more than just buying a domain name, designing and hosting a website; it is more of monitoring and doing it right.


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