Editor’s note: This post was updated in August 2016 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
As we look at the need for testing and stressing your website to determine how much traffic it can handle we have seen time and again how catastrophic this can be if you don’t do it.
It steals away revenues and profits, it hurts your reputation and in some cases the community embarrassment can be very severe.
This is all easily understandable and how it applies to an online business, but it also applies to a myriad number of non obvious “business” sites. Our futures are based upon the academic institutions to feed us even smarter and more talented people. But what happens when even the super think tanks don’t prepare totally or properly – the obvious happens in that just like the techie world, the websites of the universities crash!!!
Oxbridge University in the UK has an admission program that requires potential students to have their application in no later than October 15. On October 9 of 2007, it was reported in the Guardian, that due to high traffic volumes the university online application system crashed and with an undetermined time for restoral.
To further drive home how ludicrous this debacle was, is the fact that the national postal service was on strike at the time. With the post not working the University should have expected much higher online applications and queries, but sadly they apparently did not. Students and parents were left in a panic as they scrambled for getting their applications in before the deadline. The university finally had to give in to screaming public outrage and once the system was restored extended the deadline for another day.
In the United Kingdom, like throughout the rest of the planet, every year millions upon millions of students are applying to gain entry into the best universities. But in the UK the British have an online system that is there to assist applicants in the process and to report back the results. The system, UCAS, is for students over the age of 16 as they compete for the openings and is funded by the same students.
In August of 2011, the Evening News reported that earlier that day the UCAS acceptance website had crashed due to excessive traffic loads. As paying students attempted to log on and find out if they had been accepted to their target schools the were met with a crashed site. One student in actually received his notification, via normal mail, from the university that afternoon letting him know he had been accepted, hours before the UCAS site was even restored. You would think that the British government would have been better prepared.
Students at Oxford Brookes, as reported in the Oxford Mail, suffered a similar fate but in this case it was in regards to their degree results. At 9:30 a.m. on June 10, 2013, the degree results were to be posted online. Once again, due to high traffic volumes and not testing in advance, the university website crashed. It seems that even the academia have not heeded the wisdom of George Santayana, who wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
These are just a few of the examples in just one country that we see all the time and the sad truth of the matter is that these situations can be avoided. By anticipating traffic surges and by performing Web Load Tests in advance these places of higher education could have all shown us how smart they really are. Don’t get caught with your site down, sign up and run Monitis Web Load Tester and determine what your sites capabilities are and where the breaking points are.