Maximum uptime for eCommerce stores

2 minute read

For an eCommerce business, few things are as unsettling as experiencing downtime on their website, which is essential for selling products. Downtime not only prevents the display and sale of products to customers but can also incur significant financial losses, especially for high-earning businesses. Moreover, it can adversely impact SEO rankings, highlighting the importance of minimizing such occurrences.

There are several potential reasons behind eCommerce website downtime, each requiring specific solutions:

  • Server crashes: Issues such as ElasticSearch storage overflow, php-fpm memory saturation, or Varnish termination can lead to server crashes, particularly with complex software like Magento. To mitigate this, it’s crucial to anticipate server load, allocate resources accordingly, and implement robust monitoring and alert systems to promptly address service unavailability.

  • Deployment times: During the Magento 1 era, deployment delays were a common issue. Many extensions were incompatible with newer database versions, and running database migrations while an existing Magento instance was active proved challenging. It was often necessary to display a maintenance page to users during updates. However, with Magento 2, starting from version 2.3, this practice is no longer necessary. Effective extension design and automated deployment solutions can address this issue. Personally, I favor DeployerPHP, which can leverage Magento’s zero-downtime deployment capabilities. A prerequisite for this approach is ensuring that all extension upgrade scripts are written to maintain compatibility with older database versions. Once the upgrade script is completed and the generation folder is built, Deployer can seamlessly switch the current symlink, minimizing disruption for buyers.

  • Untested bugs in deployment: Undetected bugs, especially those affecting critical systems like ERP integration, can lead to significant disruptions post-deployment. Implementing comprehensive automated testing protocols on staging environments helps identify and rectify issues before they impact production.

  • Cybersecurity threats: Cyberattacks, whether from external hackers or disgruntled insiders, pose a serious threat to eCommerce operations. Proactive measures such as regular security upgrades, password rotations, stress testing, and third-party uptime monitoring are essential to safeguard against potential breaches. Keeping regular backups and test if such backup is working is essential to deal with breaches if they already happened. My preferred backup software is rsnapshot

  • Unpaid bills: Oversight in managing third-party subscriptions, such as failing to monitor invoices sent to outdated email addresses, can unexpectedly disrupt services. Establishing clear protocols, including centralized billing email addresses and automated reminders, helps prevent such issues from occurring.

In summary, mitigating eCommerce website downtime requires a proactive approach encompassing resource allocation, automated deployment practices, rigorous testing, cybersecurity measures, and diligent subscription management. By implementing these strategies, businesses can minimize disruptions and maintain uninterrupted online operations.