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If you are looking to build a new eCommerce store, you’re going to be on the lookout for a reliable platform that does not encounter regular outages. What about Shopify, where does it stand? Can it handle high traffic or does the performance suffer during periods of peak activity and visitor counts? Needing a reliable platform to host my own store, I decided to conduct some research into this very topic. Here is what I have found.
So, can Shopify handle high traffic? Yes – Shopify is capable and equipped to ensure your store can handle high levels of traffic. It has a state of the art server setup, provides you with a comprehensive CDN, gives you unlimited bandwidth and has built in fail-safe measures. Shopify has also deployed numerous data centers located in various locations that ensure that even in outages, there are systems in place to keep your store live. However, like any online service company; data outages can occur and the platform can technically experience downtime. Thankfully this is infrequent and Shopify boast a 99.8% uptime.
Shopify powers over 1,000,000 stores in approximately 175 countries. They boast a 99.98% up-time on all of the stores that they host on their platform. This is due to the infrastructure that they have put place to support this kind of volume.
Let us know take a closer look at how the Shopify platform works to handle all of their stores, and how your store will respond during periods of high traffic.
Traffic To Shopify.com
One of the first ways we can get an understanding for how Shopify performs is by looking at its traffic statistics. Using a platform like SimilarWeb we can see the levels of traffic the site gets on a monthly basis.
Notice that Shopify is receiving 40.62 million visits each month! Its one of the largest websites in the world, and is currently positioned at #1,151 in the worldwide global rankings. Its a huge site that by default handles a lot of traffic.
How Does Your Store Handle High Traffic?
For us to be able to understand if Shopify can perform even when a store is experiencing high traffic peaks, its important for us to understand how it works.
When you build a store on the Shopify platform, you will be automatically signing up to leverage their hosting.
If you are not familiar with hosting and how it works, in a nutshell, it is where you store is located and saved. This is done on what is known as a Web Server (which are basically a number of large computers). These Web Servers are housed in Data Centers (storage facilities), which are powered by electricity and other specialist data lines. When all is in order, your store is connected to and broadcast onto the web. It is ‘live’.
Shopify boast a premium and industry-leading server setup which ensures that stores run quickly and perform well even during peak periods of usage. They are also sure to maintain such facilities and regularly update them with the latest technology.
But whats more, Shopify offer a worldwide cloud CDN (Content Delivery Network) on all of their plans and for all of their store owners.
A CDN is a large network of services positioned globally and around the world. This means that content is served locally to the customer regardless of where they are trying to access your store from in the world. They are essentially loading your store from a server positioned much closer.
It also means that the servers are not overwhelmed by requests from customers and lots of data does not need to be sent simultaneously from one Data Center to a lot of visitors all at one time. The result is that more traffic does not impact the performance of your store.
Shopify stores routinely load within 80 milliseconds of an attempt by any global visitor, regardless of how many other visitors are on the site at the same time.
Moreover, all Shopify plans come with unlimited bandwidth. This fully protects you as a store owner even during periods of higher traffic. What this essentially means is that as your traffic goes up, the resources provided also goes up in tangent. Your resources are never capped and this means optimal performance at all times.
Another key component to Shopifys 99.98% uptime, is that they regularly roll out new updates. These updates range from performance enhancements to patching glitches or any other errors that are discovered.
All Shopify updates are automatic, so you’ll receive the latest features immediately, without needing to install them yourself or configure anything. As your store is on the cloud, its all covered.
In fact, Shopify have an entire programme hiring experienced hackers to try and take down the platform. They pay them substantial fees for any successful hack. To date, only $80,000 has been awarded since the platform launched in 2006.
So a quick recap of what Shopify offer which ensures high performance even during traffic spikes
- Industry Leading Server Setup
- Global Content Delivery Network active on all stores and plans
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Instant Updates and Regular Performance Patches
Does Shopify Go ‘Down’?
Just like any cloud based technology solution, Shopify is not immune to downtime despite it happening rarely and briefly. There is of course always a chance of downtime because of the fact that it operates via servers.
This does not however occur due to high traffic spikes on your store. It will likely be a larger issue with the Shopify platform itself.
Shopify have an entire website dedicated to providing updates on the platform status and notifying any users of such downtime.
Consider that this site only lists known issues and that due to the size and breadth of the platform, it lists all features and functionality that may be experiencing technical issues. It doesn’t mean there are wide scale problems or even any issues on your store.
Aside from the official status site, its always a good idea to check Shopify’s social media accounts like their Twitter where they are very quick to announce any issues.
Here are some of the main indicators that Shopify is down:
- You cannot load your store, access your admin or either is loading slower than normal
- The “We’ll be back soon” error page appears when you visit Shopify
The benfit to the way the system was designed is that your store is ‘housed’ on a seperate server so even if the Shopify platform goes down it doesn’t necessarily mean your store will too.
The best thing you can do if you suspect an outage is to check a number of different sites on your browser to ensure that the issue is not with your local connection. Next try the the outage site, then social media.
If then you require further assistance, contact the Shopify Support team who will be happy to help.
Having owned multiple stores over the years, I am yet to experience a prolonged or serious outage.
Issues With On-Store Configuration
Another potential reason why you susepct your store may be down is actually due to some changes or configurations you have made on your store. These include:
- Altering coding,
- Changing any of the ‘liquid’ php files
- Installing new themes
- Installing any new apps
Any of these can cause major issues and prevent your store from loading or working properly. It may be completely unresponsive or load partially or incorrectly. So for example you may get entire blank pages on your store or certain buttons may not work.
If you suspect it to be a theme or an app its best to try to identify the culprit. If its a new theme try reverting back to the one that was active before. With apps, try removing them one by one until it fixes the issue. Sometimes this will be easier as you may even know which one caused the problems.
Otherwise a good place to visit is the Shopify Support team who are there 24/7 to answer your questions and inspect your store. They are particularly good at reviewing coding and can help you to get your store up and running quickly.
Shopify does an excellent job at handling high traffic. It was built and designed to do so. They have a number of configurations and a range of infrastructure in place to support your store even when visitors spike and extra resources are required.
If Shopify was to go down at the server level (which it rarely if ever does), you may need to wait a short amount of time for the issue to be resolved. But don’t worry, Shopify will do their utmost to get the platform up and running as soon as they can. Its in their interest to do so. You can even monitor the progress on their status page.
Shopify have spent a considerable amount of time and money preventing outages, and they have contingency plans in place to resolve them if they do indeed occur.
They have a dedicated team of specialists working around the clock to prevent issues so you can be confident in the Shopify platform from the outset.