Websites going down is always a cause for concern, whether it be for a business or personal blog. In China, however, it can be incredibly frustrating due to the country's stringent internet regulations. A few things can be done to keep your website up and running in China, and this article will explore six of those solutions.
What is website downtime?
In simple terms, downtime is the amount of time when a website is inaccessible due to technical issues. Undoubtedly, website downtime can be a significant issue for companies relying on their sites to generate revenue. In China, a country where the internet is already heavily censored, downtime can be even more frustrating.
Usually, downtime could be caused by diverse things, such as web server problems, power outages, and malicious attacks. However, in China, the causes of downtime can include other aspects, such as those mentioned in the next section.
What cause websites to go down in China?
The most common reasons for website downtime in China are.
CDNs are not perfect. They can and do fail. When a CDN fails, it can have severe consequences for the websites that rely on it. For example, users may see error messages, slow loading times, or missing content. For this reason, it is essential for the websites that rely on CDNs to have a plan in place to deal with the failure. In this sense, an effective solution would be to use a multi-CDN strategy to provide users with redundancy in content delivery.
Blocking by the GFoC
The Great Firewall of China (GFoC) is the Chinese government's internet censorship and surveillance system, made possible through a combination of legislative measures, technological implementations, and self-censorship. The GFoC is a significant contributor to website downtime. It does this by blocking access to certain websites, slowing down others, and generally making it difficult for people to access the internet. This can be painful for businesses relying on the internet, making it difficult to communicate with customers and suppliers.
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- How does the Great Firewall of China work?
If you’re trying to access a site from China, there’s a good chance you’ll run into some difficulties. The country’s internet infrastructure is notoriously unreliable, which can lead to website downtime. There are several reasons for this. One big problem is the Great Firewall, since a website that is accessible one day might be blocked the next. Another issue is that most internet service providers (ISPs) in China are state-owned and often give preferential treatment to state-owned websites. This can lead to slower speeds and connection problems for users trying to access non-state-owned websites. Finally, the Chinese government requires all foreign internet companies to operate through a joint venture with a local partner. This can create problems for companies that are trying to maintain high standards of security and privacy.
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- How great is the Great Firewall in 2022: methodology of DNS censorship
Poor website hosting
Sometimes the reason for website downtime is as simple as a bad web hosting provider. When hiring web hosting, especially in China, it is crucial to investigate the provider's reputation and what infrastructure they have and review the service level agreement (SLA) they offer. It is common for vendors with outdated hardware or a network without redundancy to cause constant downtime to your website.
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Traffic overload and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
Both traffic overload and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks certainly contribute to website downtime. DDoS attacks are a type of attack in which a malicious actor attempts to make a website unreachable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. On the other hand, traffic overload can occur when a website cannot handle the amount of traffic it receives. This can happen for many reasons, like poor website design, insufficient bandwidth, or a sudden surge in traffic.
One of the biggest contributing factors to website downtime in China is DNS failures. DNS, or Domain Name System, is what allows people to use easy-to-remember domain names instead of IP addresses. When you enter a domain name, your computer contacts a DNS server to find out the IP address associated with that domain. If a DNS server is down, then your computer will not be able to find the IP address associated with such a domain name, and you will not be able to access the website. DNS failures can happen for various reasons, but one of the most common is overloading DNS servers. This can happen when there is a lot of traffic trying to access a website, and the DNS servers cannot handle the load. This can be a particularly big problem in China, where internet usage is overgrowing, and there are often insufficient DNS servers to handle the traffic. Another common cause of DNS failures is when DNS records are not updated correctly. This can happen when a site changes its IP or when a DNS server is not configured correctly. Either way, it can result in website downtime for users in China
Solutions to prevent websites from going down in China
You can minimize the likelihood of your website going down in China. Below, we list what our experts consider the most important ones.
1. Pick the right host and hosting plan
First, make sure you pick the right host and hosting plan. A good web hosting provider will have servers in China that are optimized for speed and reliability. They will also offer plans that are specifically designed for websites that need to be accessible in China. That said, choosing a web host in China can be daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the local market. There are many factors to consider, like cost, reliability, customer service, and features.
Also, due to the unique characteristics of China, some providers may offer better service in certain provinces than in others. A good starting point is to explore the offerings of top-tier providers like Alibaba Cloud, Baidu Web Hosting, or Tencent Cloud. However, for the reasons already mentioned, the ideal would be to contact our experts at GoClick China for a recommendation adjusted to your use case, target audience, and the area of China in which you are most interested.
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2. Enable DDoS Protection
If you're doing business in China, you must be prepared for DDoS attacks. DDoS attacks are a common occurrence in China, and they can cause serious downtime for your business. Fortunately, you can protect your business from DDoS attacks. One of the best ways to protect your business from DDoS attacks is to enable DDoS protection. DDoS protection can help to stop attacks before they start, and it can also help to mitigate the damage that attacks can cause. Several DDoS protection solutions are available in China, and choosing the right one for your business is essential. However, the right solution will depend on many factors, including the size of your business, the nature of your business, and your budget, so it's a good idea to enlist the advice of experts in the Asian market like GoClick China.
3. Exercise web development best practices
Nowadays, it is crucial to implement web development best practices when creating a website. Many factors, such as image optimization, simplified code to improve load time, and multi-device compatibility, come into play. However, we are talking about China, where other aspects must be taken into consideration, such as the fact that some browsers use standards that are different from the globally accepted ones, the preference for simplified Chinese characters, and the expectations of Chinese users when it comes to web design and navigation. Some of these expectations have a lot to do with the fact that most of the Chinese population uses their smartphones and tablets to access the internet, so it's essential to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. By following these recommendations, you can help to ensure that your site is accessible to Chinese users and that you avoid any potential downtime.
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4. Choose the right registrar
There are a few things to consider when choosing a registrar for a website that needs to be accessible in China. First, the registrar must have servers in China. This may seem obvious, but many registrars do not have servers in China. Second, the registrar must be accredited by the Chinese government. This is necessary to ensure that the registrar's servers can communicate with Chinese internet providers. Third, the registrar must be able to provide DNS services in China. Many registrars cannot provide DNS services in China, which means that websites registered with them will not be accessible in China. Finally, the registrar must be able to provide customer support in Chinese. This is important because even if a registrar has servers in China and is accredited by the government, there is no guarantee that its customer support staff will be able to communicate with Chinese customers.
5. Use Chinese CDNs
By using a CDN, you can ensure that your content is delivered from a server closer to the user, which can help prevent downtime. Many CDN providers operate in China, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, depending on your use case and target audience, you may want to consider a mixed strategy that includes local CDNs operating in China as well as off-shore CDNs. This brings us to a multi-CDN strategy, which could be the most suitable depending on the requirements of your business.
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- Multi-CDN: a solution for CDN outages
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6. Regular monitoring and performance testing
To keep downtime under control and ensure performance in China nothing better than regular monitoring and testing of your website. This can be done using web performance monitoring tools, load testing services, manual testing, synthetic testing, and web page speed tests. Regularly testing your website's performance in China can identify and fix any potential issues before they cause problems for your users.
At GoClick China, we specialize in both manual testing and synthetic testing. Specifically, our manual tests allow testing in specific regions of China using real devices and local browsers, which provides invaluable information to prevent downtime.
In our blog, we have several articles that can help you delve into this topic:
- Why you need device testing for smartphones in China
- 6 things that manual testing can do but synthetic testing can't in China
- How to consistently do China testing and monitoring for your website
- Why cross-browser testing is critical to your business in China
If you do business in China, your website will experience slowness and downtime eventually. While the above is challenging, by following the recommendations in this article, your business can minimize the impact of website and internet outages on your finances. In particular, GoClick China experts' advice can be invaluable. We can offer your comprehensive business solutions, including manual and synthetic testing and CDN solutions, to make your web presence more secure, stable, and reliable. To learn more, feel free to check out our services