Big brother website can’t handle the traffic!

I have one of those friends who is hooked on to Big Brother Africa 5, every time he watches it, he has to log into their live their website (, so he can post instant reactions, see whether he agrees with the Expert’s interpretation of the action in the house and join an international audience who regularly tune in from all over Africa via Internet.

Big Brother Official Website

So for the 1st time today, I followed him by  logged in to the BBA5’s site like so many of you would have done. Only to find that BBA5 official website was experiencing what is called ‘Unscheduled Down Time’! Meaning the webpage was displaying what looked website Coding and nonsensical messages instead of the flawless streamed images of the House and posted comments you expect.

It seems the show’s popularity was also the websites downfall!!

There are reports that the sites crash was caused by too many people trying to access it at the same time. Now, even as website novice developer I understand exactly what a challenge it is to maintain a site that streams live and also accepts posts from more than a thousand members at a time. However since sites like Youtube have significantly more members and coverage of the Chilean miners evacuation showed that it’s possible to stream live to over 100 million viewers across the globe at the same time, I don’t have too much sympathy for BBA5. Further as a site down loses potential revenue, valuable internet ranking and member confidence, site managers need to ensure this does not happen.
Especially when you can predict when there will be an influx of members accessing your site or specific content, there are certain steps a wise site manager can take to prevent ‘Unscheduled Downtime’.

How to Detect Downtime Errors on Your Website

It is always in the best interest of any website owner or blogger to find out first if their website can potentially experience downtime, and resolve it before site users know about it.

1. Pingdom (

2. Are My Site Up (

3. AlertX (

4. Binary Canary (

5. Hyperspin (

Preventing Unscheduled Downtime errors on your e-commerce Website.

In most cases, scenarios like BBA5’s are avoidable though they can happen to even large players like Liverpool FC website. Taking some of the measures we advice below could prevent this happening to your site and save your ranking and all important member confidence.

1. Reduce the number of HTTP requests by combining all external files and (CSS and JavaScript) scripts into a single script, alternatively combining all CSS into a single stylesheet also works.

2. Set up HTTP caching, a good way to optimize your site.

3. Optimize graphics. E-commerce websites that feature many images/ graphics must be optimized for the web.

4. Ensure PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) Optimal Performance by constantly upgrading to the newest version of PHP, currently 5.2.x in 2010.

5. Most importantly, evaluate your web hosting service. You need to check whether you are on shared hosting plan and if you have exceeded your bandwidth.

Am a big fan of BBA5 as it showcases Africa to the rest of the World therefore it’s my hope that the site’s managers will take all precautions to ensure this does not happen in the future


  1. Great informative article, unfortunately the downtime had to come during the highest point of the event. Thanx for the breaking down of the ways to prevent it. 🙂

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