Keeping your website alive - Common Website Maintenance Issues and their solutions

An often overlooked aspect of the website is its maintenance. Lots of clients still believe that once you setup a website then it will run on its own without any intervention needed. That would be ideal but in reality the website needs as much tending to as would a garden.

Some of the common issues faced by websites are:

Server Crashes

Most hosting companies promise 99.9% uptime but many times that promise is not upheld. Although a server is a sophisticated computer it is still a computer and is prone to all the problems that affect a normal computer such as hard drive failures, mother failure, memory overloads etc. At times like these the entire server goes down and the hosting company rushes to fix it.

After the server is restored the hosting company usually restores the website from a backup or a copy is retained on the server. But it is incumbent upon the web maintenance team to ensure that all the functionality of the website has been correctly restored. Any issues will have to be rectified and files reuploaded.

Malware / Hacking Attacks

An ever increasing menace is malware attacks which continuously probe for weaknesses in a website. The weakness can be in the form of an unsecured form, an out of date javascript module or a leaked password. Once the site gets attacked, the maintenance team has to rush to restore the site and at the same time investigate and plug the security hole.

This requires the website maintenance company to be constantly vigilant and uptodate with the latest security protocols. They also have to make sure all scripts on the website are uptodate and secure.

Browser Version related Updates

Most Jquery scripts that provide the fancy interactivity on the website such as menus, slideshows etc are optimized to work on various browser versions. However there are times when a new browser version can throw a script out of whack and not get the same result as on the earlier version of the browser.

In such cases either the script has to be updated or replaced. Alternately some changes to design can also be made to use a different type of script, especially if the problem is extensive across multiple browsers.

Resource Utilization

At times due to marketing efforts the traffic to the site jumps and the resources allocated fall short. At such times the website maintenance company can take two actions i.e. connect with the hosting company to increase allocated resources and optimize the website to utilize resources better.

When we talk about resources we are talking about server space, CPU usage (especially if heavy calculations have to be made), memory usage (eg. Resizing large images for multiple users) and bandwidth to and from the website.

Resource optimization can be done by introducing techniques like caching pages, compressing groups of files included in the web page (the browser decompresses them when rendering the page) and optimizing the size of the images. Scripts used on the website can also be optimized through a process called minification where unnecessary white spaces and carriage returns in the code are eliminated.

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