Is your website backed up?

data centre on fire

As tens of thousands of website owners across Europe are discovering this morning, disasters do happen.

The OVH data centre in Strasbourg caught fire late on March 10th completely destroying the SGB1 data centre, damaging the SGB2 data centre and taking SGB3 and SGB4 offline for an extended period.  OVH is one of the largest data centres in Europe and hosts many well known sites and services.

Thankfully there were no injuries and firefighters have been able to control and extinguish the fire. It does however beg the question….

Is your website backed up?

Are you absolutely sure about that?

Apparently, many of the site owners at OVH had their sites backed up to the same data centre meaning that the backup has gone up in smoke as well.  They may never be able to restore their websites.

Backups, like almost every form of insurance, are far from ‘sexy’.  They are not the sort of thing that your web developer or host will make a big deal about – partly because we all hope never to have to call upon them.  However, when we do, we want to know that they are there and that they can be relied upon.

Backups are only part of the picture.

Having a backup is great but as the OVH situation has shown, where that backup is stored is vital.  It needs to be separate from the main site hosting in either a different physical location or as a cloud based backup.

Secondly, can you access the backup or are you reliant upon the hosts?  The staff at OVH will be working furiously to check that  the SGB3 and SGB4 centres can be brought back on line ASAP (though the thought of them having been doused in water to keep them cool makes it seem that it will be some time before this happens).  It could be days (if not weeks) before they get around to making any backups that exist for the affected datacentre available to customers.  If only the customer or their developer had access to their own backups, they could be back on line (albeit on a different server) before the end of the day.

What is your disaster recovery plan?

Having your own backup is a great start but what are you going to do with it?  OVH are frantically securing new servers and space in other data centres for their customers but this will take time.  For many businesses, every minute that their website is offline is a minute when they lack profile, cannot interact with customers or make sales.

A disaster recovery plan should cover what you are going to do with those backups so, should the worst really happen, you aren’t left scrabbling around trying to find alternate arrangements.

The QD Design approach

Every HTML / CSS site we create for customers is backed up daily to a cloud location.  We also have the latest site files on our server which are in turn backed up nightly to an off site location.

WordPress websites are also backed up every day to a cloud location arranged by our data centre.  We also make backups independently of the hosting centre and store them in our own cloud location which we can access without requiring the data centre to intervene.

Finally we have an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server on standby just in case we need to shift the hosting of a customer website to an alternate location. We hope never to have to use it but it is reassuring to know it is there and ready to deploy just in case.

What does your web developer / hosts do?

Now might be a very good time to have a conversation with them to check that backups of your website are being made, are being saved in a safe location AND they have a plan for what to do, should disaster strike.

If you are not happy with what you hear, we would love to speak with you.

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Nick Hyatt
Chief Developer at QD Design
Nick has web design experience spanning two centuries (well his first page was in 1998)! He is passionate about helping smaller businesses and new ventures make their mark on the web. As well as a web designer he has spent time as a management consultant and business coach and brings these skills to help customers excel. When not designing websites he is likely to be in the mountains be it skiing, climbing or just taking photos of awe inspiring scenery.

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