How to check website availability from multiple locations
By Vivek Mannotra, Community Contributor - November 18, 2022
As the world economy has become more globalized, companies are increasingly looking to expand their operations into new markets. One of the challenges they face is ensuring that their products are available across borders and time zones.
This is true for software companies whose products may be used by people in different parts of the world. They want to reach as many potential customers as possible by making their products available consistently.
Importance of Website Availability
Before the advent of cloud technologies, web server technology has been the most critical factor in deciding the availability of the website.
The nature of the tech business is such that there is fierce competition between companies when it comes to user acquisition and retention. In order to stay ahead, product availability is essential for software companies because it allows them to:
- Ensure stability: To run a stable business it is important you have mechanisms in place which routinely check whether an application is functioning appropriately in all user environments.
- Increase customer base: By making products available in different geographies, software companies can reach new customers who may be interested in using their products.
- Stay ahead of the competition: In today’s market, it is important for software companies to ensure that their products are available for all users at all times. Failure to ensure this could lead to disadvantages in a competitive environment.
- Increase their revenues: Product availability can also lead to increased revenues for software companies. This is because they will be able to sell their products in more places and to more people.
- Achieve scale: Tech companies have been able to achieve the scale that is unprecedented in the traditional industry because of the technology and prevalence of devices connected to the internet. For aspiring companies to reach such scale, they have to ensure availability across the globe.
The term website availability refers to the percentage of time that a website is accessible to users. In order to ensure website availability in different locations across the globe, various factors need to be considered.
Most companies aspire to have close to 100% availability for their websites and mobile apps, but only some can maintain that with a varying user load and increasing cost of computing.
It is common to see products facing issues when scaling beyond the traditional environments and entering new geographies.
Factors affecting Website Availability
The following is a list of various variables that can affect website availability:
- Distance from server: The further away a user is from the server, the longer it will take for the website to load. This is due to the fact that data has to travel further and thus takes longer.
- Bandwidth: The amount of bandwidth available to your computational resources can also affect website availability. If there is not enough bandwidth, then the website will not be able to load properly.
- Number of users: If there are too many users trying to access the website at the same time, then it can slow down the website or even cause it to crash.
- Internet connection: A poor internet connection can also affect website availability if it is not optimized for such conditions. If the connection is too slow, then the website will not be able to load properly.
- Downtime: Downtime is when a website is unavailable due to technical difficulties. This can be caused by anything like server issues, dependency failure, coding errors, etc.
- Different Devices: Different countries may have different mobile device manufacturers which means application compatibility might have to be tested on a foreign device manufacturer platform.
- Regulatory environment: Internet traffic and content could be subject to moderation or throttling in different geographies based on the working style of the ruling establishment.
Keeping in mind all these factors let’s now discuss how you can develop and integrate testing methodology for ensuring website availability.
BrowserStack offers over 3000+ devices, browsers and OS combinations. You can seamlessly test your website from different locations. It also allows you to test your website on different network conditions.
How to Test Websites for Availability
Testing websites for availability involves the following steps:
- The first step is to lay down a matrix of test environment variables and their various permutations upon which a sequence of test activity will be executed. It is best to consider businesses’ goals when selecting test environments to get the most realistic comparison.
- After defining test environments you can now work to establish the kind of tests you want to perform in order to ensure the availability of your website. BrowserStack allows you to test your website on different environments such as dev, local, etc. You can perform cross browser testing, UI testing, geolocation testing, and network testing on 3000+ browsers, devices, and OS combinations.
- The test frequency for availability testing could be the same as your continuous testing workflow or it could be added as an additional step running parallel to core development. Here again, deciding the frequency of tests has to be guided by the development team’s experience with the business.
- Getting proper reporting out of both manual and automated availability testing efforts is a very important step as all analysis depends on the reports gathered. Hence to get the maximum learning out of the activity, ensuring effective and proper reporting is crucial.
- Building the right reporting structure, debugging strategy, and future plans based on the reporting and analysis carried out closes the cycle. Just like Agile, short feedback loops will help shave off unnecessary pieces of the workflow. BrowserStack allows you to view and access advanced test insights and automate reporting.
Difference Between Availability and Other Types of Testing
Some people might confuse themselves with justification for availability testing. During automated regression testing also the website is being accessed which as a result also gives a report on the availability. But this is not the same as availability testing.
The biggest difference between regression testing and availability testing is the fact that regression testing involves running a large number of tests on a relatively smaller number of test environments whereas in the case of availability testing the number of tests run is not large but the number of test environments on which the tests or run is wider depending on the needs of the business. Globalization testing and availability testing are sometimes integrated because of similarities in the nature of the tests.
Using tools like BrowserStack allows you to easily perform these tests easily. You can access the website from different locations to test how the website performs across different geographies.