Disaster Planning is the real life application of the old saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure‘. You can count on some disaster happening to your business or website at some point. According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses do not re-open after a disaster and another 25% close within one year.

There is no guarantee in life but doing disaster planning will:

  1. Improve your odds of surviving a disaster.
  2. Reduce the monetary cost.
  3. Minimize the impact on your business and customers.

Put someone in charge of the website.

Disaster PlanningThis person is responsible for monitoring your website to know if and when a problem has occurred. You can’t fix it if you don’t know you have a problem. It can be as simple as visiting your site each day. There are also tools available to help.  Pingdom can be used to check your site every few minutes and notify you via email or text if it does not get a response.  This would indicate a server or hosting issue, in most cases. Sites like Is It Down Right Now will test your site from various places around the world. Why? Because if you see your site is down, it could be your computer or internet connection. This simple test will confirm or eliminate that as the cause.

If your site is down or not functioning correctly, you have to become a detective. You’re job is to start an investigation to determine the root cause of the problem. You’ll have many tools at your disposal to test and eliminate possible reasons for the failure. To be successful, you’ll also need a good understanding of how your website operates and some knowledge of how web servers function.

You can’t possible fix a problem with your car without being familiar with how a car operates. You must also be familiar with how your website operates to diagnose a problem there too.

This is where having a skilled website developer on your team pays off.

It’s helpful to think in terms of a flow chart or a check list. Each step in the process narrows down the list of possible suspects. Every answer leads to a more specific series of questions.

At the core of disaster planning is a good backup routine. If everything goes horribly wrong, you need a copy of your data. With this, you will not lose everything and this could be difference between a bad day and the end of your business. We’ve covered WordPress backup and Zen Cart backup plans before.

A full website backup stored in multiple locations is key.

Back up your website regularly.  This could be daily or weekly, depending on the activity of your site. How much data are you prepared to lose forever? This will tell you how often you need to create a backup. Keep a copy of this backup on your server. It’s convenient to create it here and easy to restore. You must also keep a copy off the server. What if the server crashes and corrupts your data? You could lose it all, your data and your backup. Restoring from an external backup is more work but could save your butt if this is the only backup you have.

If you do not have the skill set to troubleshoot your website, delegate it. Look to your website developer first.  Some will provide this server, some will not, but they’d certainly be familiar with your site functionality.  If they don’t, ask around….ask SCORE, your local Chamber of Commerce or business colleagues how they did their website disaster planning.

The time to get this all in place is long before you have a disaster. You can’t make backups that don’t exist and you don’t want to be searching for help in the middle of a disaster.  You’ll likely to make a quick decision and hire the first person you find. Line up your resources and create a list of key contacts so you know who to go to when you have your disaster.  Put policies in place so you can be a survivor of a disaster and not a victim.

If you have a website but not a website disaster plan, please contact us so we can help you before you need it.