Firefox recently made some changes to their popular browser software. Many of our customers updated this software automatically, and then called us to complain that their website wasn’t working. Neither of us had made any changes to their site, yet a problem had occurred. What this means is that simply because your site worked last week, doesn’t mean it is functioning reliably today. There are many reasons why site problems can occur. For example:

•    Webstores Ltd automatically updates software for our customers that includes email, databases, web server administration, and shopping cart functionality.
•    Most likely you are on a shared server with many other websites. Changes in bandwidth used by these other sites or the addition of large new accounts on the same server could affect you.
•    The data center where your site is hosted could experience problems from server changes or power outages.
•    Browser changes can affect not only how your site appears, but as mentioned previously, how it functions.
•    Links on your webpage to external sites can fail if the target site deletes the page or changes the URL. I even see our customers deleting or changing the names of their own pages, without also updating the links that point too them.
•    Third party providers such as credit card processing services can make unannounced changes that can cause failures with essential pieces of your site.
•    Security failures could cause your site to be hacked or attacked.

It is impossible to prevent these changes from occurring, and even if these changes are positive, they may create a temporary problem for your site. One method for insuring that you know when your site has stopped working is to use site monitoring services. Site monitoring takes place invisibly without you having to change anything on your site. Their software just goes to your site on a regular basis to perform a test. You select the pages to test and the alerts and reports you want to receive. Testing options include test frequency and the emergency procedures to follow when a problem is detected.

In a previous article I recommended testing your site after doing a website makeover to insure that all links, signup forms, and cart transactions were working. Testing these items on an hourly (or even daily) basis is not feasible except by using a software service. Site monitoring may just protect you from revenue loss, making it a cost effective insurance for your web business.