What Should You Do When Your Website Server Goes Down?

In today’s technology driven society we’re often lulled into a false sense of security. Things always just seem to work, so we’re not really thinking about the possibility of failure. While your website is probably safe from a hack attack, chances are your host company could be the target. Even the best web hosting providers aren’t immune as evidenced by the recent round of attacks and crashes.

In recent months, the New York Times, Microsoft Outlook, Apple, GoDaddy and Amazon have all experienced outages both internally and externally caused that effected not only the primary sites, but in the case of Amazon, took down a number of hosted sites as well. The best way to deal with a site outage is to take the old Boy Scout approach, “Be Prepared!”

If you rely on your website to drive leads, distribute important information or make sales, the best time to craft a contingency plan is before you actually need one. Let’s look at what you can do when your website server goes down.

First, Know Who To Call

The first step is to know who to call in the event of an outage. Should you call your web professional or your host company? Do you have current contact information beyond email?  Make sure you have the correct phone numbers on hand for support. If you’re experiencing problems, it may be widespread and the host site may be offline as well so email isn’t an option. You don’t want to have any delays when your site is down. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

• First, check if the issue is with your site, or your web hosting provider. There are several good online resources to help you determine this issue including Pingdom, DNSsy and DNSniffer. These sites will generate a status report. If you see the name of your service provider on these reports, you could be down due to an attack or issue with your provider.

• Keep all of your relevant IDs, login information and passwords on hand. In the event of a failure, valuable time is often wasted trying to contact your site administrator to make a small change. Keep a list of approved decision makers ready in case you need security approval to make any changes.

• Try to separate key components of your online presence. Try to keep domain registration, DNS and hosting split among separate companies. In the event of a significant outage, you can redirect requests to an alternate or placeholder site until the issue is resolved.

• Keep an easily accessible, up-to-date list of all of your online advertising. If your site goes down, you will need to turn off any digital ads directing visitors to your website. If you’re running a massive campaign, or spending money on Google Adwords and are directing consumers to a dead site you’re not only throwing money away, you may be damaging your reputation.

•  Have a contact plan in place for your customers. If you experience an outage, use your social media accounts to keep customers informed. Remember, how you handle this can either enhance or damage your company’s reputation. Keep your current content backed up in the event you need to quickly migrate to another provider.  If your web hosting is cloud based, consider keeping several duplicate sites functional on a content delivery network.

The time to prepare is before there’s a problem. Prior planning and putting a contingency plan in place can keep your business up and running in the event of any emergency. It’s a smart business decision!