As we covered in our piece on reselling hosting to your clients, agencies no longer have to solely depend on the merits of their client acquisition team to make ends meet. Instead, they have the opportunity to create several revenue streams to generate recurring income, and better cater to their existing clients at the same time. One way to do this is by reselling hosting to your clients.
While it’s a relatively easy way to make some additional income, it’s not all smooth sailing. As a hosting reseller, you’re essentially acting as a middleman between hosting providers and your end clients. That means any server-level issues that affect your clients’ websites are now your problem. And if those websites crash due to high traffic or any other reason, it’s up to you to resolve the problem. Your efforts during these times are crucial, and when you deliver excellent results, you are able to ask your clients for a referral as well. This means this is a perfect opportunity for you to acquire new clients as well.
- What is a Website Crash?
- Why do Websites Crash?
- How to Keep Your Clients’ Websites From Crashing
- How to Recover After a Website Crash
- How Agency Owners Handle Website Crashes with Their Clients
What is a Website Crash?
Websites crashing is an indicator of something going wrong, like issues with the code, plugin errors, expired domains, hacking attempts, and other issues we’ll cover below. A crashed website has essentially stopped serving data, meaning your blogs, images, videos, and other site resources cannot be accessed by visitors. The minute your client’s website is down, they’re missing out on opportunities to engage with and convert visitors.
So let’s get into the most common reasons websites crash, how you can prevent your clients’ websites crashing, and how you can help them recover after a crash.
Why do Websites Crash?
There could be any number of reasons for a website crash. Some of them could be down to errors in the web code, or external malicious attacks. As a hosting reseller, you’re responsible for the crashes that happen due to server level problems.
1. Errors in Web Code
If your client has broken their web code during routine website maintenance or updates, it might result in a website crash.
2. Malicious Attacks and Hacking Attempts
Bots or hackers attempting to break into your clients’ websites could end up crashing them.
3. Plugin Issues
Your client might accidentally delete a plugin from their website, one that’s necessary for their site’s functionality. Or the website might be facing plugin errors if a particular plugin is conflicting with the rest of the website. If your client has installed a new plugin without looking into its developers, or updated a plugin, that could be a potential cause for the website going down.
4. Expired Domain and DNS Errors
An expired domain name is a common reason for website crashes, but this is quite an easy problem to fix. Your domain name is part of your client’s brand, and helps visitors find their website. It needs regular maintenance to function properly – ensure the payment method and contact information is updated on a routine basis. Better yet, turn on the auto-renew option to keep the domain from expiring.
The DNS provider might also suffer attacks from malicious parties that might render your clients’ website inaccessible to users. Contact the provider to resolve the issue.
5. Hosting Provider Error
If your client’s website has experienced an influx of traffic that the server doesn’t have space for, it could lead to a crash. This can also happen when the physical location of the server is too distant from the website’s end users. Additionally, when your clients’ hosting plan isn’t large enough to sustain a growing number of visitors, their websites will start to slow down or crash.
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How to Keep Your Clients’ Websites From Crashing
As you can see, a crashed site might be the result of website-level issues or server-level ones. In your capacity as an agency, it is your responsibility to ensure all your code is good before handing off the site to your client. Here, you’ll analyze any code error, especially if the site has undergone any sort of updates in your care. Have your developers resolve any potential plugin problems as well.
When it comes to server-level issues, your clients will expect you to handle these as well if you’re reselling hosting. If you’re only offering hosting services to your clients, make sure their crashed website is down to server issues, not unrelated site problems.
Here’s a list to check off in order to prevent website crashes for your clients.
1. Preventing Website Level Crashes
- Keep the client’s site up-to-date and secure: Any maintenance packages you offer clients after handing them over their websites will entail routine updates. Outdated websites will often not cope under the pressure of increasing traffic. Make sure to make any software update at appropriate times – never during big holidays or during high traffic surges.
- Vet the plugins you use: Do careful research on the developers that produce the plugins you want to use on your clients’ website. Look into any possible conflicts with other plugins existing on the website, and with site features.
- Monitor site performance: Keep an eye on the software that is powering your clients’ websites. Older versions are susceptible to bugs and security issues, both of which can lead to website crashes. Regularly check how the site performs under high traffic using the right testing tools. This will also let you advise your clients on increasing their server’s capacity.
- Advise your clients to backup their sites: In spite of all your best precautions, web crashes are simply part and parcel of operating on the internet. Regular backups are the only way to mitigate this damage so your clients can recover lost content. If you’re reselling hosting to your clients, make sure you’re working with a high quality hosting service. Cloudways, for instance, offers an automated backup plan for all its hosting options.
2. Preventing Server Level Crashes
Ensure the web host you choose is exemplary: When it comes to avoiding server level issues, this is the greatest priority. Pick the right host and hosting plan for your client after consulting with them on their needs. A business website that expects frequent high traffic surges, for instance, can’t use shared hosting – after all, they need high RAM and bandwidth, and fast processing and storage.
In any case, as a hosting reseller, it would be quite ill-advised to go with shared hosting, what with its tendency to crash under stress. Keep your clients on a dedicated hosting plan; actually, make it a managed plan with smart features that let you handle different client accounts easily. For example, Cloudways:
- Allows you to handle multiple projects for different clients
- Lets your clients scale their business without worrying about downtime or their websites crashing
- Comes with excellent support that you can turn to at any time of the day in case of mishaps
- Lets your clients migrate one website for free on the platform
One hosting feature you should be on the lookout for is a CDN. A Content Delivery Network refers to a server network that distributes the load of content to several servers instead of a central server, which prevents website crashes. So even if a single server goes down, the other servers would make up the difference so end users would not experience a website crash. Tools like the CloudwaysCDN not only prevent website crashes, but also optimize online content and speed up website loading times.
How to Recover After a Website Crash
As I mentioned earlier, despite all your precautions, website crashes are just part of the game. If your clients’ websites go down, make sure you have a plan of action to facilitate quick recovery. Here’s are some of the steps you should take:
1. Check if the site really is down
Non-technical clients may not necessarily identify website crashes accurately. Visit your client’s site and see if the website is displaying all right – if it does, the issue is with your client’s computer or poor internet connection. Perhaps your client’s browser cache is showing an error page and simply needs to be refreshed.
2. Verify what kind of crash it is
If you’re offering a website maintenance package, it’s up to your team to diagnose and resolve the crash even if it’s a website-level problem. This could be a code issue due to a new plugin, or higher-than-usual traffic overwhelming the point of payment. You should have monitoring already set up to identify the problem.
3. Contact your hosting provider
First check to see if your client has paid up for hosting. Then contact support for the hosting provider you use and have them work with you to quickly fix the issue. If you’re managing most or all aspects of your clients’ hosting, this responsibility falls on you; the client will not be making any calls to the provider themselves.
How Agency Owners Handle Website Crashes with Their Clients
We reached out to agency owners handling their clients’ websites to see how they deal with crashes. Here are the top tips they had for you.
1) Prevention works better than cure
According to Aaron Agius, CEO & Co-Founder of Louder.Online:
“As a global digital marketing agency, we often offer to handle our clients’ hosting needs. Website hosting and crash mitigation is not my area of expertise, which is why I prefer to focus on prevention above all. We ensure daily backups, CDN services, regular software updates, and maintenance.
Our clients’ websites sometimes crash due to traffic surges from marketing campaigns. Having a piece of your content go viral feels great, but I can’t say the same for the website. We’ve gotten a lot better at managing such crashes in the past few years — we focus on optimizing the site performance, run load tests, and have backup plans in case of traffic surges. If the site does go down, we start it back up with limited features until it stabilizes. ”
2) Have a plan for traffic spikes and DNS failures
Here’s what Oliver Andrews, owner at OA Design Services, has to say
“Website traffic spikes- Optimize the performance of your website so you don’t experience website crashes due to a spike in traffic. You can do this by using a content distribution network (CDN) or upgrading your hosting plan to include more resources.
Domain Name System (DNS) provider failure – Set your domain to auto-renew to avoid downtime due to an expired domain. You can also set a reminder on your phone or calendar a few weeks before the expiration date.
Code Errors- When making code changes, make sure the code is correct and there are no typos. Invest in an experienced developer to avoid this.”
3) Map for an Uptick in Traffic
For Shiv Gupta, CEO of Incrementors SEO Services, it’s all about planning around traffic:
“Every website owner fantasizes about a traffic spike. It’s natural: more traffic equals more sales. However, if your website is unaware of sustaining growth in web traffic, you can lose more than you can gain. Traffic waves can cause websites to slow down and ultimately crash. If you require a sale that could destroy your servers and cause a website disaster, buy some extra capacity. Also make sure you have a quantity of supply on hand.”
4) Protect against malicious attacks and website errors
Assured Marketing’s co-founder and director Jack Story has a well-rounded take on crashes due to malicious attacks:
“As a digital marketing agency specializing in website optimization, we have a large number of clients who come to us for not only their website design but its hosting and maintenance too.
Firstly the most important thing for us is having regular back ups, we take hard copies of all of our clients websites from our hosting provider every week and ensure to keep a minimum of 2 weeks worth of back ups. This allows us to easily recover a website if it is ever lost or if we discover that something within the website has broken.
When reselling hosting we find that the most common cause for websites to go down, especially if the site is hosted on a shared hosting plan is a malicious attack on other sites operating the same space such as DDoS attacks. Firstly we conduct regular server and website requests which alerts us of any down time and for how long for, this ensures that on the rare occasion that there has been some kind of attack we can react as quickly as possible.
Following this we then alert the hosting provider if they are not already aware of the issue and work closely with them to decide whether or not the situation is manageable or if the site needs to be moved onto the different server.
We have found that the above mentioned causes (malicious attacks and website errors) are the most common causes for website crashes.
We have found that the best way to avoid any downtime due to these issues is ensuring that the hosting provider that you are reselling from provides you with your own server allowing you to avoid downtime caused by other peoples websites, the second thing we do to avoid downtime is by regularly monitoring plugins and saving backups of the website in case of an error.”
5) Prioritize Debugging
John Locke, SEO Consultant at Lockedown Design & SEO says:
“For our hosting clients, we prioritize debugging for unexpected website crashes. This means, if their site goes down, we are on the case to figure out what happened, and fix the issue immediately.
The most common reasons for a crash are code conflicts, or as happened recently with AWS, an issue at the host. Usually, with a code conflict caused by a client adding a plugin or an automatic update, we can pinpoint the cause and either revert the site or plugin to a previous version, and then make sure all conflicts are eliminated before pushing updated code to production. Or, we call support at the host so our clients don’t have to to make sure the issues are resolved.
The best way to avoid unexpected crashes is to use a reputable host, and reduce the number of potential code conflicts in the website. Using a stable hosting company with resources and support helps eliminate a lot of crashes. Building a site with well coded, rigorously tested themes and plugins will also minimize the risk of code conflicts and fatal errors.”
6) Choose a quality hosting provider that specializes in uptime
Robert Soares, founder of Provided.io, has this to say:
“This is very interesting to me as a career Chief Technology Officer and founder of a development firm who now builds SaaS services and sites for companies.
There are a few aspects to preventing website crashes. Perhaps the most important is to select a high quality vendor for your hosting, whether you’re reselling hosting for your own clients, or hosting a site directly as a business. The age-old profession of systems administration, where I personally got my start, is still alive and well. Systems administration has now been abstracted from the average engineer, CIO, CEO, or product department. These experts in uptime now live in managed service providers like Cloudways or AWS.
The other powerful approach is to ensure quality code of the site itself. This includes aspects like unit testing, an effective QA process, and making sure to provide enough time and bandwidth towards reducing technical debt. Technical debt is the term for when engineers have implemented a quick solution, rather than a robust solution, or where you know there is a library, framework, or approach that has been deprecated or replaced.
Technical debt is often ignored in companies because it is not directly revenue producing. That does not mean that it can be ignored forever. Much like financial debt, a little bit can be helpful in making sure that you are delivering results at the time those results are required. Too much debt however, can overwhelm the system and result in an unstable website or application, which will result in crashes no matter how reliable your hosting provider.
Fundamentally, these considerations are why I started my own development firm, Provided.io. We strive to produce efficient code, with effective unit and functional testing practices. We also provide companies with awareness of technical debt and how it can grow, as well as when we create technical debt in service of delivering business requirements faster for them.
I have found that this approach results in faster development, as well as increased reliability. We then, of course, pair this approach with effective partnership with excellent organizations that provide hosting, like Cloudways. It is inefficient in this day and age for an organization to hire its own systems administrators in most cases; better to leave it to the experts.”
As a website maintenance provider, it will often fall on you to resolve any server related issues that lead to a website crash for your client. If site uptime is your responsibility, have a plan in place to deal with any potential crashes. Mitigate potential damage through updates and backups, and use a top service provider that’s well-equipped to handle your clients’ hosting.
Q1. What should you do if a client’s website keeps crashing?
Frequent or repetitive website crashes are usually down to server overload or malicious cyber attacks. If you’ve resolved all potential hardware and software issues but the website is still crashing, there’s a good chance it’s one of those two problems. Use the ways outlined in this article to deal with the issue.
Q2. Can too much traffic crash a website?
Unplanned-for traffic spikes are quite a common reason for website crashes. A sudden surge of traffic can easily crash a website whose processors and network speeds aren’t prepared for it. Make sure to prepare your clients for high traffic days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and for any influx following a marketing campaign.
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Manal works in digital marketing at Cloudways, where she shines up content primarily by torturing the Oxford comma. After hours, you can find her rambling about books, movies and music, and ranting about media and politics to anyone foolhardy enough to listen.