What would happen if your website crashed?

Website Disaster Recovery Plan: Do You Have One?

What would happen if your website crashed? No business owner ever wants to experience it — just the thought alone is chilling. However, preparation for a website disaster should be on the forefront of any business owner’s agenda when it comes to their digital marketing plan.

What could cause your website to go down?

A sudden loss of a website indicates some type of error. There are many possibilities for the cause of this error — malware infection, WordPress error, misconfigured plug-ins, lack of payment for hosting or domain services, server failure, improper coding, and simple human error. There could even be a jumbled combination of these problems.

How long does it take to recover a crashed website?

If you lost your website for any of the above reasons, it will take time to recover. There are generally two scenarios to consider:

  • Scenario 1 — You have backed up all files, themes, and text. If you have done this, then it is just a matter of how quickly you can resolve the cause of the crash and replace the information. This could be a few minutes, hours, or days depending on the speed of your technical team and your company’s ability to pay for services.
  • Scenario 2 — You have backed up nothing. If this is the case, then expect a much longer wait to restore your website. It could even be weeks. Not only will the process to rebuild your website take much longer, but it is highly unlikely it will have the same look, copy, and design as the original. Always check with your hosting company first. Most good hosting company keep daily server backups which will allow you to restore your site. On the bright side, this could be an opportunity for a complete site makeover.

What is the impact of a lost website to your business?

Websites are one of the most important components of marketing and sales for many of today’s modern businesses. Losing a website could have significant impact on your business. You may lose current or potential customers, have difficulty retrieving recent order information, and/or lose valuable files such as graphic designs, PDF documents, and more.

All of these losses carry financial impact as well as employ much labor to reclaim. Additionally, any downtime for a public website suggests poor management or technical skills…leading to a dampened brand reputation and customer relationship.

The solution: A website disaster recovery plan

Although you may never be able to fully protect yourself from a website failure, there are steps you can take to prepare and plan for a recovery.

A prudent business owner will see the high value in having a disaster recovery plan. The immense amount of time, money, and brand reputation that is at stake makes the effort to produce a recovery plan seem very small.

What should be included in a website disaster recovery plan?

Before drafting a website recovery plan, you’ll need to know what’s required to create your website. For this you’ll need a detailed list of service providers and technical support staff. This list could include:

  • Domain name registration
  • Hosting provider
  • Web development staff or provider
  • Graphic designer
  • Content writer
  • Photographer
  • Product specialist
  • Email account provider (often the same as the domain provider)
  • Any passwords needed. (Web Hosting account, email passwords, etc.)

You should also have a clear idea of the purpose of your website. What are your sales funnel goals and how do they translate into your web design? This may reveal additional providers for specialty apps you want on your website.

Next, your disaster recovery plan should also include regularly scheduled back-ups of your existing website. Many hosts provide this service, but it is also best to perform the task yourself. You may want to switch hosting providers in the case of a failure.

If you have a WordPress website it’s a must that you are using some form of backup service continually. If your WordPress site breaks, it’s usually because of a plugin, but the last thing you want is to spend a week trying to find a developer to fix your problem, while your website is unusable. To back up my client websites, I use BackupBuddy from iThemes or Vaultpress. Both can back up your site daily, and  if something happens, you can have your website back up within 1 hour or less.

The final portion of your website recovery plan should include elements of your customer relations and public relations. With any website failure there will be at least a few minutes of downtime.

  • How do you plan to inform your customers about this loss?
  • And where will you direct them for questions?

Also consider your social media outlets as a way to disseminate information regarding downtimes.

Creating a website disaster recovery plan is a crucial component of returning to business-as-usual following an unplanned event.

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