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The hardware used by your WordPress hosting provider can give you a lot of grief and be heavy on your wallet too. But, do you know what the issues are, and how a robust WordPress backup solution can help you?

Most of us think about subscription plans, security, and many other details when thinking about hosting a WordPress site. Few of us think about the kind of hardware that is used by the hosting and the problems that we could experience because of hosting hardware issues.

Hosting hardware issues could take your site down
Hosting hardware issues could take your site down

This may be with good reason- for one, such information is hard to get because hardware of hosting services is always out of sight, and there is no way to verify it. The second reason is that most of us may not know what are the questions we have to ask.

While there are many challenges which you may face while hosting your WordPress site, we’ll focus specifically on the hardware issues which may eventually end up affecting your site’s performance, security, and its existence.

A hosting service basically needs the following hardware:

  • Servers
  • Storage
  • Communication Equipment
  • Infrastructure Issues – Cooling and Heating

Rising competition in the hosting market space makes many demands. These demands may not all be met in the best possible manner by all host providers and this often manifest in hardware issues.

Server Failure

A server motherboard comprises CPU, memory, and network adapters among other things. All these components have a failure rate and regular wear and tear  leads to their failure. Of Course, as it is known, using ECC RAM may decrease the failure rate.

Apart from this, increases in temperature may accelerate this process and cause the CPU or RAM to fail. Power surges also lead to motherboard, and/or its components failing.

A host of software reasons may also lead to the motherboard on a server failing. This can be due to server overload through legitimate traffic or hack attacks.

Hard Disk

There is no magic, hard disks are used for storage of data in data centers. As you will well know, a hard disk is a mechanical device, meaning it relies on its parts moving to read and write data. This exposes hard disks to not only natural wear and tear but also, failures from excessive heat due to friction.

Now, imagine having hundreds and thousands of such devices stored in a single center. Some are bound to fail and fail much before their mean time between failures. A good hosting company will ensure that dated hard disks are phased out and new ones are installed periodically.

There may also be issues after maintenance work. Simple issues like physical damage caused by someone dropping hardware or not plugging in the wires correctly may occur too.

Communication Equipment

While most of us know of servers and hard disks, users rarely think of  the cables and network switches. Data centers on the other hand generally have to pay more attention to such things. Reports in 2013 of how 4 major hosting providers were taken out by a network switch failure; and users had to experience downtime, is proof of this fact. Network failures are a real threat to the functioning of your WordPress site and the reputation of your site.

Outdated Hardware

Extending the life cycle of hardware in data centers can be due to lack of maintenance or a cost cutting measure; either due to lack of budget or due to the desire to remain competitive. Cables, hard disks, etc. usually are not thought of by consumers. It may be easy to not replace them at the right time. This brings down the performance of the servers and in turn the performance of your WordPress site.

Apart from these issues certain other factors that have to do with the supporting infrastructure and maintenance of the data center affect the health and performance of hardware.

Infrastructure Issues – Insufficient Cooling

Apart from the regular functioning of servers and storage other factors may contribute to this issue. rooms may be stuffed with servers, or servers may be stuffed with too many sites. Such practices contribute to inefficient energy consumption and increased heating. In such cases it is not easy to scale up the cooling infrastructure wherein planning and space may be short. Other factors like ‘spaghetti cables’ may also aggravate the problem.

This is not simply to say here are the problems. The impact of heating issues on your WordPress site’s performance, your finances and reputation is real. Heating issues may regularly lead to:

  • Hard disk crashes
  • Longer load times due to hardware performing at below par levels
  • Pages not loading, etc.

The decrease in traffic and transaction from increased load times and frequent downtime is a fact that is increasingly well documented.

Natural Disasters and Accidents 

Natural disasters may not be something we think about on a daily basis but is obvious once stated. Natural disasters can destroy racks – servers, and hard disks, and make the building shell itself inaccessible.

Accidents may seem less obvious but they are real possibility and have caused considerable damage to the hardware of hosting servers. From a SUV crashing into a Rackspace facility costing them reportedly US $3.5 million in refunds to fire caused by drill in an adjacent building burning down an Amazon data center, accidents are a real possibility and cause considerable damage. The first example doesn’t not account for the cost of downtime which was estimated to have lasted 5 hours.

Not accounting for accidents in your WordPress site’s disaster recovery plan is a mistake.

Independent WordPress Backups Can Come to Your Rescue

The first step to being prepared for all eventualities of hardware failure with your WordPress hosting is knowing about them. Then, having good, independent WordPress backups may help you significantly reduce downtime and keep your business running. In this case, the question to ask is “Are your backups completely independent of your hosting provider’s hardware?”. If the hardware of hosting provider, located in one or two locations is compromised then can you still access your backups? If the answer is no then you need you revisit your backup strategy. You can look at BlogVault to explore a robust WordPress backup solution.

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