Take a Deep Breath….
This is not the first time that I have seen a hosting company drop the ball or have trouble. Years ago a small local website hosting company who grew from nothing to host several thousand accounts went offline for several days. Those days turned to weeks and in some cases the websites were never restored by the hosting company. That was in many years ago.
The outages seen sometimes in today’s hosting environments are slow server response times. Once in a great while, complete loss of service across tens of thousands of accounts. Again, this is rare, but it does happen and can cause severe financial loss for the business owner.
Be Prepared – How to protect your Business and Yourself
If your domain registration, website and email hosting are all served by the same company and something goes sideways that does not make for a pretty picture. A perfect (not so perfect) storm if you will.
Have a Plan – Redundant Redundancy
- Domain Registration – Keep your domain registration under your control. Your name and your business is on the line. Then point the DNS server settings to the hosting company of choice. Also point the server settings to the email hosting company you will be using if it is a separate service. Be sure to use a completely separate email address to register the domain that is not tied to the same domain that you are registering.
- Website Hosting – Select a reputable and reliable website hosting company. (See my review) There are many things to consider such as quality and level of service, technical support and best fit for your business needs. Be sure to look for a hosting company that you can easily connect to a content delivery network. What that does, is serve your website content from the closest location to the person searching for your information. That helps to increase the speed at which your website loads. This is extremely important if you are working on optimizing your website for visitor experience and search engines. Also, in the extremely rare event that the main hosting company is having server trouble, the content delivery network (CDN) still shows your website content through many servers across the country. When setting up the hosting account, use an email address that is not tied to the domains you will be hosting through the hosting account.
- Email Hosting – This is often provided through your website hosting company but it can be a completely separate service. By setting up your email hosting separately, you still can have communication through your email even if the website itself goes down, provided the email hosting is set up correctly ie: separate from the website hosting. G Suite from Google is what I use for my company email communications.
- Website Security – Be sure to have your website developer implement website security steps to protect your website from potential bad guys. Yes, even your website can be a target.
- Updated Plugins – Especially if you have a WordPress website, it is extremely important to keep up with the latest WordPress Core software updates and plug in updates. An outdated plugin can be an open door for a bad robot or hacker.
- Daily Backups – Have a couple of daily backup systems in place and make sure they work. It only takes a blip and the website could be vaporized in an instant. So, back up, back up and then be sure to back up. And be able to have it restored quickly and efficiently.
- Monitoring – For many companies the website is one of the most important business assets, yet, under valued until it doesn’t work. Having 24/7 alerts set up in the event that the website does go down or if there is a problem is just another safety step that can be implemented that will save some major headaches. Especially if you depend upon your website for generating leads and sales!!!
- Plan B – Always have a Plan B. Having taken reasonable and prudent precautions, it is helpful to know what to do if….. the unthinkable happens.
So, Now What?
You may have taken all of the recommended steps above, or not, and maybe added a few other steps to safeguard and protect your valuable business asset. Annnnnnnd…… Oh my, the website is down and the hosting company is down and we have a major email going out promoting our latest and greatest ________________________.
Think Things Through… then Take Action!
In the event that the need is URGENT and REQUIRED, some options are…
- Double check to see that the email and hosting are set up separately as in step 1.
- Verify that you have a recent backup of within the last 24 hours that you can get access to that you can restore a website from.
- Already have in mind an alternative hosting company that you would like to move to (see my review).
- Setup the account on the new hosting company.
- Use the recent working website back up to move the website to the new hosting company.
- Point the DNS settings in Step 1 to the new hosting company
CAUTION: This is not magic. And does not happen overnight. Sometimes, it is best to do this at night or later in the evening to reduce impact. It can take from 24-48 hours for the domain name server (DNS) settings to take hold (Propagate) across the internet. So there may be some very short term intermittent outages during this transfer process. In some cases the DNS settings are completely functional after 10-12 hours, but don’t count on it. This is not something to be considered lightly, but something that can be done if needed and should be done by a professional who has done this before to ensure best outcome results.
The whole point is to have a plan. Think it through. Discuss it with your team. Start taking the small steps now to put your best business asset in a position of strength. Be prepared, have a plan and take action!