Developing a Crash Plan for Your Website

Posted on July 15, 2013 by

Every business goes through a crisis at some point. Nowhere is that more evident than with a company’s data and website. Servers fail, buildings burn down and hackers break into computers. With so many ways your data can be compromised, it’s imperative that you have a full plan in place for a disaster. But what should you do? How do you plan for it? A lot of what you do is based on your particular business and financial resources, but there are a few basics everyone needs to cover.

Back Up Your Data

Your first order of business when preparing for a disaster is to make sure you back up all of your data properly. Perform a full backup — backup up your entire system — at least once a month and supplement it with daily incremental backups containing only the information that’s new since the last backup. Then, when you lose your data, all you’ll need is the latest full backup and all of the incremental backups made after it.

Back up your data at multiple sites. Perform local backups to a NAS or external hard drive, if your data needs are small, and then pay for an online backup service. This provides quick access and fast speeds with local backup and redundancy with online backups.

Test Your Backups

Testing your backups is nearly as important as creating them. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with the backup process. The software could fail, miss important information or crash. The drive you’re using could crash in the middle of the process and leave you without backup media or a working copy of your files. The most reliable way to test your backup, short of wiping your drive and using the backup to restore it, is to generate hashes of the original files and the backups and compare them. There are software tools out there that do this, but they’ll take some time to learn. If you don’t want to dive into that, then test your backups by performing an actual restore at least every three months.

Get a Dependable Host

Having working backups is great, but they don’t do much good if your Web host is flaky. Cheap hosts use money-saving measures that can compromise security or result in significant downtime for your site. Don’t go cheap; take the time to evaluate several hosts and then go with the one that’s going to provide you with the best uptime guarantees, quickest support and most stringent security measures. It’s worth it to pay more for a reliable Web host. You may pay more, but you won’t have to perform maintenance and you can remain confident that your host has the resources, experienced employees and recovery plans necessary to get your site up and running when disaster strikes.

Write Your Plan Down

You’ve prepped your data and found a great Web host, but what specific actions —and in what order — are you going to take when something happens? Figure that out with your team. Give everyone a job. Put different people in charge of identifying what was lost, initiating the data recovery process, contacting your Web host and organizing everyone’s efforts. Keep a list of your sites, all usernames and passwords, tech support numbers and recovery procedures. Give each person who’s part of the plan a full copy. If you plan out your response, organize a team to respond to the crisis and practice the procedures regularly, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way.

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