The word “catastrophic success” holds a lot of meaning here. It means an unusual surge in traffic that can bring a website to a complete halt. You have been successful at bringing traffic to your website but it proved to be catastrophic.
This happens due to unanticipated levels of interest when thousands of users visit the website, but the webmaster is unable to cope with them. Sometimes, the service may not go down but gets so slow that it becomes non-responsive. Such problems can be overcome.
Other causes of website failure include DoS attack (denial of service), which can also cause congestion and overload; poorly configured system components and out-of-date updates and patches on web servers.
The occasional outage is understandable and happens to all, but frequent downtime can cause delays in business. As we begin relying more on Web applications, Internet uptime is becoming more critical.
But there are things you can take care of to ensure you pave a smooth superhighway to your company’s website.
Content delivery networks (CDNs)
The public internet depends on content delivery networks to handle large amounts of media on huge sites like Amazon.com. Microsoft recently launched a free CDN to improve website performance. CDNs are made to route traffic onto private networks, thus removing the burden from the public website. In the absence of a CDN, sites with massive media files will be down immediately.
One of the best and most popular ways of dealing with internet problems is to cache data that is frequently accessed. You can use Memcache or anything else and you will find several CMS packages that support this. But you must ensure you are careful with dynamic data.
Internet caching is similar to your computer memory caching, which holds the most popular content in a cached storage on the server to provide faster access. There are tier-caching products that help cache content within the website by making sure the content from the database is available even with there is a huge surge of traffic. This is one of the ways Twitter and Facebook deal with traffic surges.
One of the new methods of dealing with traffic is to use better programming to withstand the sudden traffic spikes. Experts say that most websites cannot withstand any unanticipated traffic due to poor programming.
Your website downtime is not always related to the hardware. HTML5 and other new standards have built-in mechanisms for increasing the reliability of websites. These involve advanced programming techniques. HTML5 is considered to be an important advance in browser capabilities.
You can optimize your static content by compressing images in order to make use of every kilobyte, but all the while making sure the visual quality does not get affected. You can also compress the content delivered by your web server. You can optimize your content management system by reducing the number of database calls you need to make for each page request. In Drupal, this is very simply done by disabling some of the modules. It is also advisable to separate the read and write databases.
One of the most important things is to add “expires” headers to content to ensure the same files are not downloaded continually as a user browses your website.
There is certainly no guarantee that your site will never go down. You will just have to find the right balance and implement what is necessary to ensure it has a high percentage of uptime.