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10 Possible Reasons Behind a Website Crash (& How to Prevent It)

Head and shoulders photograph of Milena Alexandrova
Frustrated man holding his head and staring at laptop
When websites crash, the consequences can be disastrous. An e-commerce site crash can lead to revenue loss, brand damage, and customer frustration. Plus, it can even negatively impact your rankings in Google and other search engines.

Thankfully, if you're using a reliable hosting provider, your risk of downtime is significantly lower. However, given that 81% of retailers experience downtime at least once a year, it's better to be aware of what you can do to prevent a website crash.

In this article, we've compiled a list of the 10 most common reasons for a website crash and tips on preventing it in each instance.

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1. Surges in Traffic

Surges in traffic happen when too many visitors come to your website at once, overwhelming the hosting server and bringing your entire website down.

And the worst part? It happens exactly when your chances of making more sales are the highest, i.e., when many people are on your website at once.

How to Prevent Surges in Traffic

In short, you don't want to prevent surges in traffic; you want to make sure your website can handle them. Traffic can sharply increase after you launch a new marketing or ad campaign, so make sure you plan for it in advance and upgrade your hosting plan if necessary.

Traffic surges can also be seasonal or related to an increased demand for your product, so monitor your traffic frequently.

2. Plugin Errors

Not all plugins are created equal. While some are extremely helpful, others might bring your website down. The reasons why a plugin might crash your website include the following:

  • A plugin might've been built poorly from the start
  • Plugin developers might stop updating it at some point
  • It might be incompatible with other plugins you're using
  • You might have forgotten to update it

How to Prevent Plugin Errors

Just because you can install a plugin, it doesn't mean you should. Beyond crashing your website, plugins can also negatively impact page speed, so carefully vet all the plugins you use, only install the ones you really need, and make sure you update them frequently.

» Check out our top picks for the best WordPress hosting services.

3. Coding Errors

If the code of your website is not built correctly, your website might crash, or a part of it might become dysfunctional and not display correctly.

How to Prevent Coding Errors

If you're using a website builder, you most likely won't have to deal with code at all. However, if you're building the website yourself, make sure you know what you're doing each time you're updating anything, and always keep backups.

Alternatively, hire a web developer to take care of maintenance and updates.

4. Hacker Attack

A hacker attack can also bring your website down. The most common type is a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack, in which a hacker overwhelms your website with traffic from different sources.

How to Prevent a Hacker Attack

To prevent a hacker attack, use HTTPS instead of HTTP and keep all your passwords secure (preferably in a reliable password manager) and all software and plugins up to date. HostGator also advises installing the right security plugins and performing automatic backups.

» Use these tips to protect your website from hackers.

5. Virus Attack

It's not always a malicious person who's on the other side. Your website could be brought down by a bot too. Harmful malware might crash your website, but it might also infect your computer and your visitors' devices, so it's crucial to make sure your site is protected at all times.

How to Prevent a Virus Attack

Like the previous point, make sure you use an HTTPS protocol and always protect your passwords. It's also a good idea not to allow users to upload files to your website unless you specifically need it because this can open the door to malware.

6. Expired Hosting

When getting a hosting plan, you usually buy one that covers you for a year or two. Once that hosting plan expires, your website will no longer be accessible.

How to Prevent Your Hosting Plan From Expiring

This one is easy. Make sure your hosting plan is put on auto-renewal or that you have the right systems in place to stay on top of all due dates.

If you'd rather not auto-renew your hosting plan for some reason (e.g., if you're changing your hosting provider), make sure you're giving yourself enough time to do this before the expiration date.

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7. Expired Domain

Your domain name is not the same thing as your hosting plan; both need to be renewed separately. If your domain name (i.e., the address of your website) expires, your website will become unavailable.

How to Prevent Your Domain From Expiring

Again, the best solution here is to use the auto-renewal function of the provider that manages your domain name. In most cases, that'd be your hosting provider.

8. Issues With Your Hosting Provider

If your hosting provider experiences downtime or does maintenance with little or no notice, this can cause a website crash.

How to Prevent Hosting Issues

The most obvious solution is to choose a reliable hosting provider with a proven uptime track record. If you have no experience with hosting a website and are still looking for the best solution, we can help!

» Take a look at our top picks for the best web hosting providers for small businesses.

9. Being Blacklisted by Google

If your website gets blacklisted by Google, users receive a warning message that says, "Your connection is not private," "The website ahead contains malware," or something similar.

While this isn't exactly the same as a website crash, the result is nearly identical. Your traffic, ranking, and sales will suffer until you resolve the issue.

How to Prevent Being Blacklisted by Google

Our advice is similar to preventing hacker or virus attacks. Make sure your passwords are safe, all software and plugins are updated, and you're using HTTPS encryption and the right security plugins.

10. A DNS error

A DNS error could be the result of incorrect DNS configuration, or it might also mean that your DNS provider is experiencing an issue. Alternatively, your website could be infected, resulting in your hosting provider blocking your site.

How to Prevent a DNS Error

Keep all plugins up to date, make sure your website is secure, and ensure your domain or hosting plan hasn't expired.

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Avoid Website Crashes by Using the Right Prevention Strategies

If your website crashes, it's important to identify the core reason and address the issue as fast as possible. But even more important than that is prevention.

Thankfully, with reliable hosting providers and website builders, prevention is easier than ever. Just make sure you're keeping all software and plugins up to date and that your passwords are secure at all times. Also, don't forget to update your credit card info if your card expires. Otherwise, your domain name and hosting won't auto-renew.

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Head and shoulders photograph of Milena Alexandrova
Milena Alexandrova is a tech writer with a master's degree in economics and social sciences from Pantheon-Sorbonne. With a strong background both in marketing and as a legal and technical consultant, Milena crafts content to help people make tech-related decisions and promote their businesses.