How to Deal With a Burst of Traffic

Receiving a large number of concurrent visitors is every business owner's idea of success.

​​​​​​​Receiving a large number of concurrent visitors is every business owner’s idea of success. After all, high traffic can be the payoff of going viral, gaining national press visibility, or holding a successful sale. 

That said, your website could receive traffic it’s unable to handle. If either your website and/or your website’s server can’t cope with a burst of traffic, visitors will come face-to-face with an error message. Which, in the end, will defeat the purpose of getting high traffic in the first place. 

The Shark Tank Example

A great example of this type of error in action is during shows such as “Shark Tank.” In this show, a panel of investors (the “sharks”) let entrepreneurs pitch their innovative product ideas and discuss whether to invest in them.

When an episode premieres, you can visit the website of any business that’s looking for investment – just like thousands of people, including the audience and potential investors, will be doing.

You’ll often find that a brand’s website times out, typically because it’s hosted on a cheap shared environment rather than a platform that can handle a burst of traffic. But of course, there’s a lot more to it. 

In this blog post, we’ll share a few ways you can protect your website and easily handle desirable, yet potentially dangerous traffic spikes. 

How to Deal With a Burst of Traffic

Steer Clear From Cheap Hosting Platforms

Imagine if your website slows to a halt every time your business finally sees an upsurge in traffic. That’s extremely likely to happen if you settle for a cheap hosting plan. So yes, the platform you choose matters. 

Cheap shared hosting platforms may seem like a bargain at the outset, but they’ll cost you a pretty penny down the road. The biggest price you’ll pay has to do with resource limitations. Bandwidth limit, memory limit, functionality limits, storage limit…and, of course, traffic limit. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You might deal with continuous downtime, poor support, poor performance, slow page loads…and as a result, high bounce rates and revenue loss. 

You are not doing business if you are offline.

In short, choosing a cheap shared host (cPanel hosting) won’t let your website scale to your future requirements. And growing businesses depend on scalable hosts. You need a host that’s able to tackle unexpected traffic jumps and cover your server capacity during peak hours. 

Not to mention, cPanel is a field day for hackers

A managed hosting plan (like SixFive’s plans) can provide the additional expert support you need to keep your website working to its full capacity, 24/7/365. So you don’t have to worry about traffic spikes or your site’s speed ever again. 

Free Security with Cloudflare

Unusual traffic surges can also come from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which are malicious attempts to flood the usual traffic of a server. Attackers do that by preventing target visitors from arriving at your website. 

As Cloudflare puts it, “a DDoS attack is like an unexpected traffic jam clogging up the highway, preventing regular traffic from arriving at its destination.”

Speaking of which, using Cloudflare as part of your setup could protect your website from such attacks, as well as keep bursts of traffic under control. 

To prove its effectiveness, Cloudflare’s autonomous edge DDoS protection systems automatically detected and mitigated a 17.2 million request-per-second (rps) attack, known as the largest ever attack of its kind. 

When you register a domain with SixFive we set up CloudFlare for you, and if your website is on our Managed WordPress Hosting we also optimise it to protect and speed up your website. 

Configure Caching/CDN

Every time a user loads a webpage, their browser has to process a lot of data in order to display the content of that webpage. Optimising the delivery of that content can lighten the load on the server, which helps the page load faster. 

To optimise that delivery, browsers can cache (or store) most of the page’s content on the device’s hard drive with the help of a content delivery network (CDN). Well-configured CDNs reduce hosting bandwidth through content caching and distribution. This way, the next time the page loads, most of the content is already stored locally and ready to be displayed to the user. 

A few trusted CDN providers that can speed up your WordPress site loading time include Fastly (included in our managed WordPress hosting plan), Cloudflare, and KeyCDN. 

Run a Code Review

For a serious business owner, a code review is always a good idea, as it detects any potential errors or weak points in the website from a coding level.

Code reviews act as quality checks of your code base. The reviewer (or reviewers) can also act as a second pair of eyes in identifying bugs or other issues.

After the code has been reviewed, the team should create a code review report. This report should list which errors or warnings were detected, and also provide information about where the error is located, so that the problem can be resolved as quickly as possible. 

Run a Stress Test

A stress test can help website owners see if their website is equipped to handle a larger number of concurrent visitors.

It’s typically conducted to ensure the server won’t crash under heavy traffic load. This can be an important test when determining whether it’s time to upgrade your hosting platform or optimise anything on the website. It’s also a great way to benchmark how reliable your web application is beyond normal circumstances. 

Here’s a word of caution: stress tests should only be performed with the consent of your hosting company, and should never be conducted on shared hosting protected by DDoS security protocols.

How Managed Hosting Makes It All Easier

A burst of traffic can be a great achievement, but only if your website can handle the load. Managed hosting support will make sure it can, by putting all the work in the hands of experts. 

Our Managed WordPress Hosting plans offer premium server caching and hourly local backups to ensure the tech side of your business is always running smoothly. 

Regardless if you’re dealing with upgrades, security issues, or migrations, we’ll handle it all for you. No need to frustrate your staff with potentially non-secure, costly software. No downtime. No hassle.

Duncan Isaksen-Loxton

Educated as a web developer, with over 20 years of internet based work and experience, Duncan is a Google Workspace Certified Collaboration Engineer and a WordPress expert.
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