In today’s world, a website crashing can be costly to a business. It is estimated that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience.
Furthermore, 60% of customers are unlikely to return to a site if they encounter an error.
Worse? 91% of enterprises report downtime costs exceeding $300,000 per hour.
These statistics show the importance of having a website that runs smoothly.
However, crashes do happen, and there are several common reasons behind them. Here are 8 common reasons for website crashes and how to fix them.
What is a Website Crash?
A website crash is a sudden and unexpected shutdown of a website. There are many possible causes for a website crash, but some of the most common include server issues, database problems, and code errors.
Website crashes can be frustrating for both website owners and visitors, but there are ways to fix them.
One way to fix a website crash is to identify the cause of the problem and then take steps to fix it.
For example, if the problem is due to server issues, you may need to upgrade your server or change your hosting provider.
You may need to repair or restore your database if the problem is due to database problems. You may need to debug your code or contact a developer for help if the problem is due to code errors.
Don’t worry if it sounds like we are rushing through this section. We will dive deep into each solution later in this guide.
That aside, here are some of the most common website crash reasons.
Read also: Complete Guide to Choosing a Web Hosting Provider
1. Downtime from hosting providers
This is one of the most common reasons for website crashes. You see, when you have a website, it is hosted on a server. This server can be provided by your hosting provider or even your in-house servers.
Now, these servers are just like any other computer. They can crash too!
In fact, most of the time, it is not even your website that crashes but your server. And when this happens, all the websites hosted on that particular server will go down with it.
What causes the server to crash? There are many reasons, but the most common one is simply because it’s overloaded.
And trust me, this happens a lot as web hosting companies usually oversell their servers.
It will most likely crash when there is a sudden spike in traffic to your website or any other websites hosted on the same server.
2. DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks are one of the most common cyber attacks in the world. And they are also one of the main reasons for website crashes.
In a DDoS attack, hackers will use a botnet to send massive amounts of traffic to your website simultaneously to crash it.
But why would they do that? Well, there are many reasons. It could be for political reasons, to take down a competitor’s website, or even just for fun.
According to Cloudflare, in Q3 of 2022, ransom DDoS attacks increased by 67 percent year-on-year and 24 percent quarter-on-quarter.
So now, these attacks are trying to extort money from companies by crashing their website and demanding a ransom to stop the attack.
Read also: Secure Website: How an SSL Certificate can Help.
3. Outdated software or WordPress version
WordPress is one of the world’s most popular content management systems, and it powers millions of websites. But just like any other software, it needs to be updated regularly.
And as you can guess, WordPress is not perfect, and new security vulnerabilities are always being discovered.
So, if you don’t update your WordPress website to the latest version, hackers can easily exploit these vulnerabilities and take over your website.
Not updating your WordPress site is one of the most common reasons for hacked WordPress websites. In fact, according to WpWhiteSecurity, 83 percent of hacked WordPress sites were running an outdated version of WordPress.
4. Poorly coded plugins or themes
Just like any other software, plugins and themes must be well-coded to work properly.
Otherwise, they can introduce security vulnerabilities or cause compatibility issues that will crash your website.
According to WPScan Vulnerability Database, as of July 2020, there are currently over 56,000 security vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins and themes.
That’s a lot!
And it just goes to show how important it is to ensure that the plugins and themes you use on your WordPress site are well-coded and up-to-date.
And besides causing security threats, poorly coded plugins can bring about incompatibility issues, leading to the dreaded white screen of death.
If you don’t know what that is, it’s when your website stops working, and you see a blank white screen.
Incompatibility errors are usually caused by plugin or theme conflicts, which happen when two plugins try to use the same code or when a plugin’s code doesn’t work with the current version of WordPress.
The good news is that these types of errors can be fixed by deactivating all your plugins and then reactivating them one by one to see which plugin is causing the conflict.
5. Incorrect file permissions
File permissions determine who can access your website’s files and what they can do with them.
There are three types of file permissions: read (r), write (w), and execute (x).
And each type has a corresponding numeric value: 4 for read, 2 for write, and 1 for execute.
For example, if a file has a permission setting of 6, it means that both the owner and group members can read and write to that file but not execute it.
On the other hand, if the permission is set to 7, then everyone—the owner, group members, and guests—can read from, write to, and execute the file.
Regarding WordPress websites, you should aim for certain ideal settings to prevent crashes caused by incorrect permissions. For instance:
- All folders on your site should have a 755 or 750 permission setting.
- Your wp-config.php file should have a permission setting of 600.
- All other files on your WordPress site should have a 644 or 640 permission setting.
If you are unsure what your current file permissions are or want to change them, you can connect to your website via FTP and then navigate to the directory where WordPress is installed.
6. Exhausted memory limit
By default, WordPress will try to use 32MB of memory. However, some themes and plugins require more than that.
If your site doesn’t have enough memory allocated, this can lead to the white screen of death or a 500 internal server error.
Just to be sure we are on the same page, what’s the role of a memory limit in WordPress?
The memory limit is the amount of RAM (memory) a program can use simultaneously. It’s important because if your site doesn’t have enough memory, it will start to slow down or even crash. That’s why it’s important to ensure you have plenty of memory allocated to your website.
To fix an exhausted memory limit issue, you’ll need access to your website’s files via FTP or cPanel File Manager. Once you’re in there, look for the wp-config file (it should be located in the root directory).
Then open up the file and add this line of code:
define( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’ );
If you don’t see a wp-config file listed anywhere inside your root directory – don’t worry! Just create one yourself by opening up a new text document and adding that same line of code before saving it as wp-config.
7. Database connection issues
Whatever CMS you use, your website will need to connect to a database to function properly. WordPress uses MySQL as its default database management system.
However, if there is an issue with how your site connects to the database, this can cause all sorts of problems – including crashes.
There are a few different ways you can fix database connection issues:
- The first thing you should do is check whether or not your hosting account is still active and hasn’t expired. If it has, then that would explain why your site isn’t working! You’ll need to renew your hosting plan to get things up and running again.
- Another possibility is that the username or password for your database might have been changed somehow. To fix this, you’ll need access to your cPanel (most hosts provide this). Once you’re logged in, go to the Databases section and find out what the current username and password are set as – once you know these details, try updating them inside of WordPress itself by going to Settings > General > Database Username/Password fields.
If neither of these solutions works, then there’s likely an issue with the database itself. In this case, you’ll need to contact your host and ask them to take a look for you.
8. Expired domain and DNS errors
This is something most new website owners don’t know; when you register a domain name, you don’t actually own it! You are just like leasing it for a certain amount of time (usually 1 year).
If you don’t renew your domain name before it expires, someone else can register it for themselves. And once they do that, your website will no longer work!
At the same time, your domain name runs on DNS.
DNS is basically like the phone book for the internet – it’s what tells browsers where to find your website.
If there are any DNS issues, that can also cause problems.
For example, if you move hosting providers and don’t update your DNS settings accordingly, people will still be trying to find your site on the old server, which no longer exists!
The best way to fix this issue is by renewing your domain name before it expires (you should get an email from your registrar reminding you to do this).
As for DNS errors, you’ll need to contact your host and ask them to take a look for you.
9. Blacklisted by Google
If Google has blacklisted your website, then that’s a pretty serious issue! It basically means that Google doesn’t trust your site and thinks it might be up to no good.
As a result, they will remove any links to your site from their search results pages. This can obviously have a big impact on traffic levels!
There are many different reasons why you might get blacklisted – the most common being spammy content, malware, or phishing attempts. If you think this may be the case, then you should first run a scan of your site using something like Sucuri SiteCheck (it’s free).
This will help to identify any potential issues which need to be fixed. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to submit a reconsideration request to Google for them to take another look at your site.
10. Corrupted .htaccess file
The .htaccess file is a very important file used by Apache servers (most hosting providers use this type of server). It basically controls a lot of the low-level settings for your website.
If this file becomes corrupted, it can cause all sorts of problems – including crashes!
The best way to fix this issue is by restoring a backup of the .htaccess file or creating a new one from scratch.
If you’re unsure how to do this, then your best bet is to contact your host and ask for their assistance.
How to Reduce Website Crashes?
There are several ways to reduce the chances of your website crashing.
First, make sure that you have a good hosting plan. A good host will have multiple servers that your website can be stored on, so if one server goes down, your website will still be accessible from another.
Second, keep your website updated. Outdated software can be a major cause of website crashes, so always use the most recent version of any software that your website relies on.
Third, create regular backups of your website. That way, if your site crashes, you can restore it from a backup and won’t lose any data.
Using a content delivery network (CDN) can also help to reduce the chances of your website crashing. A CDN stores copies of your website on multiple servers around the world, so if one server goes down, visitors will still be able to access your site from another server.
Finally, don’t try to do too much at once. If you are making major changes to your website or adding a lot of new content all at once, it can increase the risk of crashes. Before implementing it on your live site, make sure you test any new code or content.
These are just some of the most common reasons why websites crash. If you’re having issues with your site, hopefully, this article has helped point you in the right direction!