I recently had a customer referred to me because his web site had been hacked. When you visited his URL his site was gone, replaced by a phishing web site (a site that fakes a real site, and tries to get you to enter confidential information, in this case, banking information). His web site designer had moved away, so he needed help in taking down the phishing site, and getting his site back up and running.
Taking down the bad site was pretty straight forward. His legitimate files had been replaced, so I deleted the bad files and changed his password to a new strong password to prevent the bad guys from hacking him again. Getting his site back up and running was a whole different matter. His site was gone, his web designer was gone, and HE HAD NO BACKUP!
It makes me crazy! You regularly hear on the news about some poor student who left their laptop on the subway and lost the only copy of their graduate thesis, or some poor single mother who had their laptop stolen and lost the only photos of her late husband. Way too many people have lost irreplaceable personal data, and it could have been avoided if they had a backup.
As business people we have a responsibility to backup our business data, and most businesses are pretty good about this. But one expensive piece of data that many businesses don’t take care with is their web site. We pay thousands of dollars and hours of time to develop out web site, but don’t protect it with a good backup plan. Many people assume that their website host keeps backups, so they don’t have to. In this recent case, the web site host was no help at all! And what if your web host goes out of business? No more web site!
Here’s what I do to protect my customer’s investment in their web site. First, I keep two complete backups of my server computer. We use Macintosh computers here at Boreal, and Macs come with a great utility called Time Machine, that keeps a backup of our data, every hour. I also regularly clone my hard drive using a great program called Super Duper. The great thing about the clone; if my hard drive crashes, I can boot from my clone and be back in business in minutes. There are similar utilities for PC users.
But what if my office burns down, or my computer and backup drives are stolen. This is where I turn to “the cloud”. I keep two cloud backups of my customers sites, one with Dropbox and one with MobileMe, two services that offer cloud storage. So in the worst case scenario, I can recover the site from one of two cloud servers.
Last but not least, at the conclusion of any web project, I burn the whole site to DVD and give a copy to my customer.
So there you go, every web site we build is in at least seven places: our server, two backup drives, two cloud servers, on DVD with the customer, and finally, on the active website server. When disaster strikes (I stress when, not if) the web sites are safe.