Benefits of a Healthy and Properly Maintained Website by Market Action Research
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If you were ever around cars growing up, you probably have heard the saying that is a lot more cost effective to check and change the oil regularly on your car. The reason being is that is a lot less expensive to check and change the transmission oil frequently rather than change out the whole transmission in a car, or worse. The same is true to make sure you keep your website healthy and properly maintained.
Although websites don't have a dipstick per se, there are other indicators to check to make sure your website is up to date. This typically requires the assistance of a professional web developer or programmer, and checking varies based on how it is configured. However, in most cases you will need to have access to the server. Unlike cars, websites rely on various hardware, software, and code-layer or programmatic components. These three areas are typically of core concern to anyone thinking about or is already operating a website. Some of these require more frequent updates than others, and in the following section we dive into each to give you a general understanding of what you should know.
Server hardware typically does not require that many changes all that often. There are of course exceptions to this, but typically server hardware often lasts at least several months if not years without needing to be changed. That is because the software on the hardware can often renew the usefulness of the hardware itself. These typically come in the form of updates and security patches, thus making the hardware more performant and secure. However, every now and then there can be compelling reasons to switch server hardware. For example, a new firewall that has additional mechanisms that is not available on previous versions will likely require physically updating the hardware. Or there may be faster and newer server components, CPU, memory, GPUs, or other server hardware that are provide more power or better fit your company's needs. Typically, hardware is only something you have to worry about if you’re managing on-site hardware. Alternatively, many cloud computing providers take care of the maintenance required to keep the hardware running safely or performantly.
Major software or operating system changes are typically more calculated and predictable, because they work on predetermined timelines and lifecycles. For instance, CentOS, which is a stable Linux distribution derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), has a road map that stretches a 10 year cycle from 2014 to 2024. Other popular open source Linux distribution based on Debian is Ubuntu, which has a road map that is estimated to 2032. Of course, as of 2021, some of these systems are not yet available, but the point is they are already on the roadmap for development. There have and will also continue to be numerous updates that will be required to each version. For instance, it's typical to expect a double and triple digit figure of updates on any given month. Fortunately like hardware, software tends to have a long lifespan. This makes it easier for programmers and developers to have the confidence to invest building on their platforms knowing that the technology will be stable and last a long time when done right.
Updating the code and programming is by far the most nuanced of the updates. This is because code tends to have a lot of dependencies linked to the software, which in turn connects to the hardware, as well as other code-layers and programs to one another. This means that the code must conform to what's possible on the hardware and software simultaneously and still achieve the desired functionality for the end-users. For instance, code made to run on PHP version 7.1 won't necessarily work if updating the server required an upgrade to PHP version 7.4. This is a simple example.
Sometimes the changes can be much more complex when an update to server hardware and/or software requires multiple changes, such as needing to update PHP, ElasticSearch, MySQL, and several other programs. Often these changes come with changes to the code rules, or in other words how the code works. Although not all of the code becomes obsolete when it moves from one version to another, some code can be more dependent on the code that was changed than others. This is why this can only truly be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
In some cases, holding off on web maintenance for too long can also cause unforeseeable issues. For instance, version update incompatibility. This happens when the current version does not allow for a direct upgrade to the most recent version. Doing a sequential or progressive update, by updating one version at time is possible, but is undoubtedly more expensive and complex.
As you can see, holding off on maintenance not only makes making the update more complex it also makes it much more costly. Continuous maintenance will make changes and updates less abrupt, and ensure smooth an uninterrupted operation. Performing updates on a regular basis will make sure your website stays healthy and remains properly maintained.
Market Action Research is here to help you properly and professionally maintain your website and server systems. Contact us today to learn more about our services or for a free consultation.