Whether you like it or not, you’ll need to do some required maintenance on your servers at some point. No server can run forever without regular, scheduled maintenance. But, during those maintenances, you will need to take it offline and minimize the downtime.
Why minimize downtime?
You won’t want to keep your websites offline for too long. This can cause a loss of revenue, a tarnished reputation, a driving away of new business, a lack of confidence from your customers and an unprofessional appearing demeanor by any new visitors who were looking to do business with you.
Having your servers and your website down for too long will result in some negative effects that you may never recover from. In short, long downtimes are bad for business.
How to minimize downtimes
Worried about what’ll happen when your business runs its next scheduled server maintenance? Below are some ways you can get your servers and websites up and running in the shortest amount of time.
1. Excellent Backups
Before you can even start to think of bringing your servers down for your scheduled maintenance, think of the worst case scenario: not being able to start them up again or doing so with data loss.
That’s why you should have a backup strategy in place that ensures all your relevant data has been backed up and can be restored. Regularly check on your backup data to see you haven’t been saving corrupt data. Perform tests to find out if any data has been skipped or lost. Only when you are 100 percent sure everything can be restored should you think about bringing your servers down for maintenance.
2. Latest IT Infrastructure
Investing in keeping your IT infrastructure updated isn’t something only companies with larger budgets do. Updated technology will always be easier to maintain and administer. The more recent your hardware and software is, the lower the chances of their crashing before or during your maintenance. Investing in keeping everything updated will pay off in the long run.
3. Keep an Eye on Things
Before you take your servers down for their scheduled maintenance, spend a couple of weeks studying them. Make note of any irregularities. If you are aware beforehand of any performance issues, you will be able to sort them out before, and take the necessary precautions during, the maintenance. Never delve into a scheduled maintenance with a blindfold on.
4. Perform Regular Maintenance
No, this is not an oxymoronic statement. Just think about it. The more frequent your server maintenance is, the less needs to be done during subsequent maintenance. You cut the downtime of a scheduled maintenance by smoothing things out with every previous run. In other words, the longer a server remains unmaintained, the longer it will take to maintain. For instance, the longer you wait to get rid of temporary, unnecessary files, the more buildup there will be and the longer cleanup will take.
Keeping downtime to a minimum lets you recover rather quickly should there be any issues.
But is minimization the only way?
Is downtime minimization the only way to go about your server maintenance? Not necessarily. If you really want to bring your server downtime to an absolute zero, you will need to adopt one method: cloning.
What is cloning?
Cloning is the process of creating a duplicate server that is the exact replica of your production server. You can then perform any and all upgrades and maintenance on your clone server. You can even put it on a test network to see how it will perform. Once you find everything is working as well as it should, you can take the production server offline and replace it with your clone.
The only time that your servers will both be offline is when you assign the production server’s IP address to the clone. Remember, no two servers on the internet can have the same IP address. Therefore, if you want your clients and other websites to find it, you need to assign it the old IP address. Of course, you can also assign it a different IP address, but the time it takes to change the information in your domain name resolver and propagate it across the world will take some time. If it’s zero time you need, just transfer the IP address.
Go forth and maintain
And there you have it! Take these precautions for minimum downtime and, if you need absolutely no downtime, try cloning. Good luck with your server maintenance – don’t forget to schedule them out regularly for better results!