Web Design and Development
One of the main reasons that people are hesitant to make drastic changes or significant updates and upgrades to their websites is fear of downtime. After all, many businesses and individuals use their websites as their sole method of generating income or selling products. And downtime can cause a website to miss out on sales, affiliate income, and new visitors. Or even worse, it may cause search engines to drop some pages from their indexes.
So what can you do to minimize downtime when doing website maintenance? Use a testing server.
A testing server is a ‘server’ that mimics your web server but can run on your local computer or shared network resource computer. The advantages to using it means that you no longer need to upload dynamic files to see how they work. Instead, you will be able work on your website locally, including any testing to your databases, without ever affecting your live website.
If you want to install an Apache webserver, we suggest using XAMPP(Cross-Platform Apache MySQL PHP Perl) server. One of the benefits to selecting this server is that it works across all platforms including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Solaris. And it comes with an optional installer which makes it easy to install. (Another server that you might also consider is WAMP.)
If you are interested in installing a Windows Server, you are pretty much out of luck when it comes to good free servers. But if you visit the Microsoft website, there are options to buy servers. And there are free lightweight servers, not to mention lengthy trials to help you evaluate them.
Once your server is installed, you can begin to use it immediately.
All that you need to do is to create a copy of your live website for your testing server. This is done by downloading all of your files as well as importing any databases.
When you have a functioning copy of your live website on your local server, you can now use this to make any changes or redesigns. Then when you are ready to go live with the changes, you will have minimized any errors that may have happened had you not been working on an alternate version.
You might say, ‘Why don’ t you just use a subdomain, such as dev.yourdomain.com, for testing purposes?’
Yes, a subdomain can be used, especially in cases when paying for a server, such as a Windows server, is necessary. However, we suggest a local server because it will be easier and faster for you to make changes and preview the website without having to upload your revised files each time. Additionally, if you have concerns about bandwidth usage, using a local server will not put any additional strain on your web server.
Whether you decide to install a testing server or simply duplicate your website on a subdomain, it is important to have an alternate location to test and preview your website. One added benefit of doing this is that you always have a backup of your website, should something happen to your web server. And above all, you will avoid making costly errors that can affect and increase any potential downtime on your live website.Tags: Apache, databases, Linux, platform, XAMPP