Avoiding the Reddit Hug of Death and Other Common Causes of a Website Crash
Last updated on September 15th, 2020
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If you own a website, having it crash is probably one of your worst nightmares. If your site is tied to your income, that scenario becomes even more problematic. Getting a site up and running again can be time consuming, and users won’t be able to access your content in the meantime.
On the other hand, preventing such a crash can save you time, energy, and even money by minimizing site downtime. You’ll then be able to focus your attention on other important tasks, and feel comfortable in the knowledge that users can access your site with ease.
In this post, we’ll explain the various reasons websites crash, including the Reddit Hug of Death (also known as the Slashdot Effect). Then we’ll explain how to avoid a site crash altogether. Let’s get to it!
Why Do Websites Crash?
The reasons websites crash vary widely. Generally speaking, anything that causes a site to stop serving data will result in a crash. In order to prevent these periods of downtime before they happen, you’ll need to put safety measures in place to cover the various reasons for site crashes.
Some common causes include a sudden influx of visitors, bugs in your website’s code, or a loss of power to your server. While some factors are outside of your control (such as those where your hosting provider is at fault), others can be defended against. Next up, we’ll look at one of those causes.
The Reddit ‘Hug of Death’
The Reddit Hug of Death, also known as the Slashdot Effect, occurs when a popular site links to a smaller site, sending it a large (and sudden) influx of visitors. If the smaller site isn’t set up to handle high traffic levels, a crash could occur.
The reason a crash might happen after a Reddit Hug of Death varies from case to case. A site may reach its traffic quota, its data bandwidth might be insufficient, or its server could become overloaded. That last possibility is particularly likely if the site is on a shared server.
There aren’t many statistics available on the Reddit Hug of Death, but some website owners have taken to their blogs to share their experiences. Developer and blogger Craig Junghandel had a 4,500% increase in visitors after being featured on Reddit, for example, and CodinGame’s platform had two hours of downtime after a Hug of Death.
One of the best ways to prevent a Reddit Hug of Death crash is by opting for cloud hosting with WP Engine’s Enterprise plan. Cloud hosting takes advantage of a network of servers to deliver your site’s data to users, instead of relying on a single server to handle all of your traffic. This means that even if one server gets overloaded, the others can help to compensate.
Too Many Website Users
As with the Reddit Hug of Death, your server can suffer strain if there are too many users on your website for any reason. This can drastically degrade your users’ experience, even if it doesn’t result in a crash. Your server will keep users from viewing content until a connection is cleared up, resulting in long wait times.
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help to speed up your site, even if you have a larger user base. A CDN has many servers located all around the world, making it easier for users in a variety of locations to access your content smoothly. This setup also decreases the strain on your site’s primary server.
It’s also important that both your site and hosting plan are ‘scalable’, so you can manage increases in traffic when they arise. Using a scalable architecture when designing your site will prepare you for expanding it as your audience grows. Fortunately, WP Engine’s platform offers both a fully-managed global CDN and scalable architecture.
Bugs in the Website Code
If there’s an issue with your site’s code, it may stop displaying content to searchers. The best way to prevent this kind of problem is to be careful when you’re updating your site, and to be judicious about who you enable to access it.
Code-related crashes can often be traced back to administrator actions. Therefore, make sure to keep a log of your site’s updates and changes. You can then go back and see what actions corresponded with the time of the crash, and undo them to see if that fixes the problem.
That being said, outside threats are still a possibility. Implementing a strong security solution is vital to preventing hackers from infiltrating your site. Here at WP Engine, we offer security features including managed updates as well as threat detection and blocking, to help keep your site safe from malicious attacks.
Servers Lose Power
Your hosting provider may claim to provide over 99% uptime, but unfortunately no server is perfect. If your website is down, your first step should be to contact your provider and see if there may be a problem with your server. This will enable you to implement the best plan for getting your site back online.
Servers can lose power for a variety of reasons. They may go down for routine maintenance, in which case they should be up and running again quickly without causing you much trouble. That being said, servers are also susceptible to natural disasters and power outages, which could require more time to address.
While cloud servers can also lose power, cloud hosting is designed to prevent downtime even if that occurs. Since cloud hosting uses a network of servers, if one server loses power, your site can continue to run off the remaining servers. Data centers also usually employ multiple power sources, to prevent power loss in the first place.
If your server is down, there’s not much you can do except wait for your hosting provider to fix the problem. It’s also wise to back up your site regularly, so it can be restored if needed. Your best defense, however, is to opt for a quality hosting provider and a robust cloud hosting plan.
How Does a Site Crashing Impact the Digital Experience?
No one wants to see their website crash, and waste hours due to costly downtime. What’s more, a crash can have a detrimental effect on your users’ experience, delaying or preventing access to your content.
While knowing what to do if your site does crash is important, understanding how to prevent it from happening is even more vital. To this end, we offers features such as scalable architecture, a fully-managed global CDN, and cloud hosting that helps to keep your up and running nonstop. Check out our plans today!