Risks vs opportunities of too much website traffic

The risks and opportunities of too much website traffic

What happens when you get too much traffic to your website or app? Read our guide on how to leverage traffic surges and maximise the benefit to your business.

Vast and unpredictable visitor numbers to a website or specific web pages can come from a host of different avenues—and not all of them are due to the positive outcomes of your hard work.

We all strive for a high traffic website, as more visitors translates into more sales, whether that network traffic comes from search engines, marketing efforts, or from peak user times and seasons throughout the year.



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measuring traffic running web server software can be hard for the website owners

How to determine the amount of traffic your site's web server can safely handle

You don't have to wait for the world to cave in to realise your site isn't prepared for hefty surges in traffic. The technology is available to test each system and find out what it can safely handle.

Performance testing can predict the essential data you need using established tools and techniques.

  • Load testing simulates what would happen with expected traffic, for example, the added demand from email campaigns or social media and PPC advertising.
  • Stress testing simulates what would happen with even more pressure from further traffic. It identifies the points where systems and applications slow down and stop working altogether. This helps owners understand their system architecture and determine if it's appropriate for their current business and future growth.
  • Spike testing gathers data for situations where a sudden surge hits your servers, above what your system can cope with—ideal for predicting outcomes of SPAM or other DoS attacks.
  • Soak testing measures the anticipated issues when a system is subject to high traffic levels of your web users over extended periods.

One thing's for sure; testing must happen before it's too late. We've all heard the phrase, ‘closing the stable door after the horse has bolted’. It couldn't be more appropriate for the problems huge traffic surges can bring to your business.

There are easier ways for a site owner to work out safe levels of website traffic for high traffic websites - read our handy guide.

What can you do with all that extra traffic to stop it crippling your website's speed or app performance?

There are always several solutions to every given problem, and surges in traffic are no exception. Here are a few ways to try and keep your systems safe when those sudden bursts of activity hit your servers.

Streamlining your high traffic website to deliver less content in bottleneck areas

If it's all about crunching numbers (and it is), many organisations reduce the amount of data being moved around by slimming down the pages getting the most attention. With a slimmed-down set of pages, a reduction of dynamic content, simplified page components, perhaps delivered only at peak times, your web server has less work to do per visitor, and can manage more traffic, respectively.

Building specific landing pages containing only static resources for advertising events off-site, with a different hosting provider or in alternative locations on multiple servers, to protect valuable server resources is another way of keeping that huge traffic away from your heaviest performing pages - and it's worth taking a look at how your content management system or operating system is affecting performance too - but time spent on a "fine tune" may not always yield significant enough benefits. There are a variety of optimization techniques and optimization plugins you can use, including image optimization, to reduce the amount of traffic coming from other machines, without using more resources to serve media files. If you install a caching plugin that can compress images as your visitors down load images, or compress html or css files, that can help too.

streamlining traffic with multiple servers may not help with a large traffic surge - you may not need to add a virtual private server

Opting to deliver third-party content

Websites under pressure utilising third-party content can remove some of that pressure away from their web hosting. If analytics pages, testing protocols, payment gateways, or social media integration can happen off-site, then it frees up processing power to manage those excess bursts of visitors.

using a content delivery network cdn reduces problems associated with high traffic website serving lots of available ip addresses using your web host

Website caching

Caching content for re-delivery is another option. For subsequent users viewing the same data, it can pay to utilise server-side caching, content delivery networks, proxy and browser caches, or any other type of client-side storage available during the process. These are often deployed with minimal changes to your domain name server configuration.

With database-driven systems, particularly eCommerce sites, they're continually interacting with their databases to produce new pages. This can create a massive strain on processing when heavy traffic floods in. Creating a page once and re-delivering it significantly reduces that pressure, often enough to avert disaster.

Load balancing your web servers

When inundated with unexpected traffic, load balancing handles traffic by splitting your daily traffic above the server level and routes it through two or three different web servers (typically), taking the pressure off any single server when facing high loads. Intelligent load balancing, carried out using load balancing switches around available servers, diverts traffic from struggling servers to the most responsive, so your site performs as you need it to, delivering the types of page speed your customers expect. While utilising some kind of load balancer can help each web server, it’s still not an ideal solution to those high traffic website events and can increase your web development and disk space costs.

What happens when there's too much traffic for your regular workarounds?

That's where we come in. Queue-Fair is a digital queuing system that moves your excess traffic into a safe environment—a virtual waiting room on its own dedicated hosting.

Each user is assigned a first-come, first-served slot in the queue and is recalled as soon as the website is ready for them.

With all the information presented to visitors in a branded format that integrates seamlessly with your website, they can make the best use of their time, stress-free, knowing where in the queue they sit, the speed they're moving up the line, and how long their wait is likely to take.

better than a load-balancer our internet service protects from traffic spikes

If your website is working under normal traffic capabilities, they won't even know it's there. Our system works with your existing dedicated server hosting plan, protecting you from the traffic surge flooding your most popular web page.

It's simple, it's fair, and it protects your web systems, your customers, and your brand reputation. Delivering truly impressive specifications, it's the perfect solution that will save you from stress, downtime, and the kinds of financial losses nobody wants to suffer - so maybe you can avoid huge enterprise class machines and keep that cheapest web hosting plan after all...


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