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Partner, Let Me Upgrade You: Why Making Changes to Code Isn’t a Bad Thing

As fearless Winhost technical support specialists, we often encounter problems involving web sites that suddenly “broke,” seemingly out of nowhere. The owner of the site opens a support ticket, presents the issue, and invariably concludes their description of the issue with a plaintive variation on “And I haven’t touched the code in 2 years!”

Although by telling us this you may mean to indicate that there must be something wrong on our end, it actually puts up red flags for us that it’s more likely there’s something wrong on your end–because updating your code is absolutely essential to maintaining a functioning website.

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Why? Let’s take your operating system as a case study. We’ve all experienced the annoyance of Windows running those automatic updates at night and waking up to find our computer has rebooted and all of our open windows have been unceremoniously closed. But Windows not updating would, ultimately, be even more annoying than waking up to your programs closed.

Windows updates because bugs are constantly being discovered and fixed, exploits are found and patched, new functionality is added, third-party vendors release new, better drivers… the list of “whys” is pretty long. If you never got those updates, what would happen? Your computer might be subject to an attack, you may not be able to take advantage of a new feature offered (like, say, the new, even buggier version of Internet Explorer), or maybe a new program you install won’t run properly because it depends on a service pack update.

As you may know, your Winhost website is actually running on Windows — Windows Server 2008 or 2012, to be specific. On that server are many components that contribute to keeping your website up and running. The two you might be most familiar with are IIS and the .NET framework.

Venture over to our community forum and check out the post on monthly maintenance. We are regularly performing updates, too–just like your desktop Windows OS. So as you can probably deduce by now, our server environment changes regularly. Therefore, what you coded 2 years or even 2 months ago may start acting funny after a while.

As the responsible webmaster we know you are, it’s part of your job to make sure your code keeps up with the changing environment it’s running on. Remember, these are web applications you’ve written. Just like applications on your desktop, updates are crucial to ensuring they function optimally.

Most of the web applications we offer in our App Gallery release regular updates. It is vital that you keep up with the updated versions, because they not only add functionality, they also fix bugs that were discovered. You can avoid your site being rendered nonfunctional by regularly checking for updates.

Some of the applications will alert you to new versions being released–do not ignore these alerts! The same is true for plugins (such as in WordPress), blog themes, etc. Any component of your web application requires monitoring for updates and patches.

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However, it’s not just the server environment that changes, and it’s not always bug fixes or exploits that compel updating applications. As your site becomes more popular, or your business grows (which, I think you’ll agree, is a Good Thing), more people are going to be visiting your site. That means that the application you wrote to accommodate 10 users at a time may now be straining under the load of 50+ concurrent users.

You may start noticing more 503 errors, which, understandably, makes you think something is wrong with our servers, when in fact it may just be due to your successful business practices or your scintillating blog posts. Try doing a little gardening–make sure your application is scalable so you can revel in your new found success and popularity error-free.

I hope I’ve convinced you to re-analyze your fear of updating your code. Of course, if you really are experiencing problems with a web application that is updated, scalable and now apparently completely broken due to something on our end, as your friendly Winhost technical support specialists, we’re here and happy to help.

Just be sure to let us know you’ve been touching your code on a regular basis.

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