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7. Reliability > Smoothing Outages

Smoothing Outages

Sometimes you have to bring your site down, or you have to figure out how to bring it up again after it has crashed. There are some things you can do ahead of time to ease the pain:

  • First of all, reduce complexity to the bare minimum. Fewer moving parts are always better. Be very critical of new features that add flash but little substance. Everything should be what it seems to be. Once you think your web site is as simple as possible, make it even simpler.

  • Documentation should paradoxically be very sparse and thorough. Use big pictures to show all networks, IP addresses, machines, and applications. No one has time to read more than a few lines during outage emergencies.

  • Make sure there is a well-known “out-of-service” web page that can be put on the site at a moment’s notice. If you have regular subscribers, consider an instant messaging system to inform them of outages and estimated time until the site will be back up.


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