9 Tips to Prevent Downtime from Traffic Surges

Tips to Avoid Downtime in High Seasons

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure. (Confucius, Chinese philosopher)

Every business has hectic periods at times. Regardless of the niche, everyone experiences surge in traffic now and then. Be it tourism with its high seasons or e-commerce with seasonal sales and special days like Black Friday or Christmas Season – it is always vital to be all equipped and ready in advance to face this time without a hitch if you want to maintain your reputation.

If your platform is not ready for the high load, the things will start failing at the most inconvenient time. So, if you want to avoid troubles, you have to prepare for every period of high traffic up front.

In this article, we describe a checklist of things to prepare for high load periods. We have split the checklist into 2 parts: procedural and technical measures. Let’s get a handle on these ones.

Procedural Precautions

1 Keep Your Staff Informed

Preparing for high traffic season requires raised awareness about this period in the team. Every member has to be aware of the upcoming traffic increase. Since the projects tend to be more and more international, some people may lack relevant information regarding the periods typical for the developing project in different parts of the world. So, even if imminent traffic spikes seem obvious to you, be sure to notify your employees about the reasoning behind it beforehand.

2 Assign Duty Engineers

Every project needs a person in charge of contingencies during high seasons. Duty engineer is the one who has to keep an eye on monitoring platforms and first one to receive alerts if something goes wrong. In case of technical problems, this duty engineer is responsible to stop any other activity and start fixing the project immediately. If the problem requires extra human resources to be solved, duty engineer can take a role of a coordinator and request help from other members of the team. If the high traffic period is long or different time zones require overnight shifts, it is reasonable to set up a schedule for a few engineers.

3 Have On-Call Engineers

Fast internet connection removes any boundaries between businesses. Companies collaborate with offshore IT providers to reduce the costs. In most cases the time zones of business and overseas IT services provider are different. Nevertheless, it is important to keep customers services live even during nights, weekends and holidays. Make sure there is an On-Call Engineer assigned at times when everyone else in unavailable.

4 Keep Features Deployment to the Minimum

Last but not the least, it is important to minimize the amount of non-urgent code changes during high traffic periods. Incomplete testing and hidden issues might lead to inconsistency of the project and to losses of customers.

Technical Precautions

5 Check Your Site for Potential Bottlenecks

Sometimes you may encounter minor performance issues like a slow image or search filters loading when testing your site. You should eliminate them no matter how small as soon as you detect them. Seemingly insignificant issues may grow like a rolling snowball during traffic spikes when left unresolved.

6 Set Up Site Monitoring System

Rapid traffic surges place such a heavy load on your server that it may significantly slow down or even crash. You do not want to lose your clients because of merely technical issues. So, it is crucial to monitor the work of the server as well as the service itself along with the essential modules by integrating monitoring services and alert systems to check the site regularly and notify you if something goes wrong. In this case, you have time to take required actions to avoid critical situations.

You may find monitors like https://uptimerobot.com very helpful.

7 Scale Heavy Parts of the Project

If you are developing a system that will potentially experience high loads during rush hours, you should lay the foundation for scalability of the system or its modules yet at the early development stage. Timely and thought-through scalability will facilitate undergoing traffic peaks by increasing the number of computing elements of the platform.

8 Use Vertical Scaling

If you have a project where scalability was not initially included in the architecture, you can make an effort to increase the computing power by scaling up/boosting the parameters of the underlying hardware – adding RAM/CPU resources as well as increasing the bandwidth of the network.

9 Speed Up Content Delivery Process

People driven by curiosity may randomly and chaotically visit and revisit the same pages. This creates unnecessary queries encroaching upon your resources. To optimize the performance and avoid repeated loads of the same content, thus, unnecessary loading the system, this data can be cached either on the server side or even on the clients’ hosts. (Here we refer to frequently used static files like fonts and styles of your site and javascript files or even infrequently changed content of the site like images and texts).

You can also check CDN solutions that can be used to speed up the process of content delivery to your users.

Final Notes

Every project is individual but every sphere has its high seasons. That is why it is very important to be ready for traffic spikes in advance.

We in Attract Group understand that good preparation can save you a lot of time and nerves in the future. This checklist has served us well and saved us from a lot of troubles. We were able to mitigate all the problems our customers had during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas fevers. They were very thankful for the services provided.

So, if you are looking for a proactive team to put your vision into practice, we are open to cooperation.

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