Could Your Web Site Handle a 200% Traffic Spike?

Consider the headline—and don’t answer too quickly.

You may not even readily know the answer without making a call to your Web host or talking to your IT guy (depending on how big your company is). However, if you are like most small businesses, the answer is no.

A Neustar survey reveals that 75 percent of small and mid-sized businesses across the country could not handle a 200 percent spike in online traffic without making changes to their Web site. And that number leaps to a disturbing 93 percent when discussions of a 300 percent traffic spike come up.

The bottom line: the vast majority of small businesses are not prepared to deal with rapid business growth, even from short-term promotions.

According to Alex Berry, senior vice president of Internet Infrastructure Services at Neustar, the most common reasons why a small businesses’ Web site could not handle these traffic spikes are (1) a lack of true scalability, (2) Web site downtime.

One key factor in this equation is DNS management, the foundation of a company's Web presence. Every online visitor relies on the DNS to engage with any Web site.

According to Neustar, 38 percent of the respondents say they use the DNS service provided by their ISP, while another 24 percent rely on a 'do-it-yourself' setup, and 16 percent count on a free, hosted option. While some of these services have come a long way, Neustar says most simply don't have the scalability or stability required to keep an online business running through rapid spurts of growth.

"Many small businesses, particularly those powered by online marketing and increasingly dependent on e-commerce, know they might see spikes in online traffic anytime, but they're not ready for it," says small business consultant and columnist Gene Marks. “These firms have become accustomed to free services with limited capabilities, and this becomes a serious problem when they need to scale up in a hurry. The market needs more DNS solutions that are simultaneously affordable, scalable, stable and secure."

So why wait? Check with your host—or your IT guy—about uptime guarantees, bandwidth allotment, security bells and whistles, DNS management, and other issues that could cause your Web site to crash in the midst of your next promotion.


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