At the Cambridgeshire Digital Awards we’re very proud to have the support of Nimbus Hosting, a leading IT company that specialises in providing web hosting services to digital agencies and e-commerce sites.
One of the company’s missions is to allow digital professionals to focus on core projects rather than dealing with “hosting headaches” and the, often, complex details of IT.
And with CDA16 under two weeks away, the team at Nimbus Hosting, our Headline Sponsor, has put together a whole host of free advice on how to create a contingency plan should your IT systems ever be plagued by a disaster such as fire, flood, a hacking or malicious malware infection.
Here’s Nimbus Hosting’s blueprint for creating an effective ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’
A Disaster Recovery Plan From Nimbus Hosting
The world of digital is great but with everything now online, businesses need to learn to navigate new risks. As well as physical risks of fires and floods damaging our IT infrastructure, how would your business or your clients businesses cope with being hacked or becoming infected with malicious malware?
Know your IT infrastructure
Find out what cloud services you’re actually using, what you’re paying for, what you need and what can go. Make sure you know how these services interlink with other parts of your business; if you lose your web server do you lose your email too?
A lot of companies prefer to keep different aspects of their business with different companies to try and minimise the risk of losing everything at once for example, keeping web hosting and email hosting with separate companies. Although this is recommended, make sure you know how to access all of this information and have the log in details for when you need them. This is also a great opportunity to have a quick audit of what you’re actually paying for.
Identify your risks
As well as protecting yourselves against physical elements like floods and fires, it’s often underestimated the damage that can be caused by virus infection, hacking or accidental deletions. With the majority (77%, according to a study back in 2013) of business now relying on technology and the internet for their daily operations it’s necessary to think about where your risks are most likely to occur to prepare for them.
If you have a high number of staff, do you control, know and have a record of who has access to what? Is everyone in the organisation using secure passwords? These are all questions worth considering when making a disaster recovery plan.
Even businesses that take every security measure possible can get hacked, especially if they are specifically targeted. Regular backups ensure that even if your site is compromised, you can get it restored quickly and easily. Occasionally, updates can break your website’s design or functionality and some updates can be buggy, in which case you can use a backup to restore to a previous version.
Backups are one of those annoying expenses that never seem all that necessary until they are absolutely vital.
Test your backups
It’s tempting to put a backup system in place and forget about it, cross it off your list and move on. Unfortunately this is not the case. Regular testing of these backups is essential and as important as having the backups in the first place. Imagine if at the moment you need them the most, you find out it hasn’t been working for months or has been corrupted.
Make sure you configure your site to display a 503 code status page
When a site does experience downtime, whether planned or unplanned, it’s important to make sure there is a 503 code status page displayed to not only let your visitors know what’s going on but also let Google know and prevent them removing your site from listings.
If, during a crawl, a search engine finds that some content no longer exists, for example if it gives a 404 HTTP status, it will remove that content from the search results until it can come back and verify that it’s there again. If this happens often, it’ll take longer and longer for the content to come back in the search results.
Why is it so important to have a plan in place?
Every business that operates online is susceptible to an IT disaster and the only way to make sure that your business softens any interruptions is to have a speedy recovery from a pre-organised disaster recovery plan.