If your business relies heavily on online operations in order to create revenue then you need to look at ways of dealing with an outage should it occur. An hour of down time can cost your business a lot of money and it could do a lot of damage at the same time. As a minimum you should be looking to request a static page from your web hosting company because this will provide your visitors with a branded message when they reach your page as opposed to the generic error page.
Web Outages Are Scary; Here is How to be Prepared
Your website may be used for lead generation and if this is the case then an outage will not be a huge disaster, however, if you are conducting transactions through your website then a few hours downtime can be costly. The following strategies could help to prevent these problems.
Why You Should Have Daily Backups
A daily backup of your systems is an important part of protecting your website. A lot of the data from your site will sit on external servers owned by the hosting provider and although they may promise that everything is backed up you really need to find this out for yourself so a small test will do the trick.
Try uploading a file and then delete it several minutes later and then ask the hosting company to restore it for you. They should be able to carry this out in no time at all. If they cannot then this could be a problem. However, experts believe that you should backup your website yourself despite the hosting company promising to do so. There are a number of free programs available for this and they will enable you to move all of your files onto your own systems through the control panel that comes with the website.
Keep Your Options Open When it Comes to Web Hosting
There is no such thing as perfection so when they promise you 100% uptime think carefully about whether you can trust them. A hosting company have to be easy to trust and they have to act promptly, listening to you when they need to and then acting upon the service you require.
So what kind of service level does your business need? Shared hosting is affordable but this means your website is shared on a server with thousands of other sites but if your company stores customers data or order information then shared hosting is not suitable because of security requirements. This means that you will need a server in the form of a Virtual Private Server.
If you require more than this then a dedicated physical server and these are usually required by those sites that receive a lot of traffic on a daily basis.
The options continue and you may need dual hosting which means you are contracted to two hosting companies which is crucial if you do require 100% availability but this does offer an improved resilience against failure.
Monitoring and Logging
For those websites that generate revenue, leaving absolutely everything up to your web host is not completely advisable. You should consider keeping hold of some of the control such as backups whilst maintaining a manual log of any changes that are made to the site, who carried them out, when they occurred as this can help decrease the time it takes to restore your site should there be an outage. A website monitoring service is also a good tool to use because this will inform you when your site is down.
How to Deal with an Outage like a Pro Webmaster
The first thing to remember is that you must remain calm when an outage occurs. Contact your hosting company and understand what is happening and find out whether the problem is related to your site only or if it is more widespread. As soon as you can, tell your customers when you expect the site to be up and running and for outages that are spread over a long period deliver regular updates.
Finally, restoring your site can be a process that requires technical knowledge, so if you do not have this yourself then consider an IT consultant that you can use in an emergency.