The weather in the northeast this week has been devastating: flooding, trees down, no electricity, no cable, no internet, the list goes on. Thankfully, my family and I are safe, and I hope yours is as well.
With all the shortages that have occurred over the last couple of days, it’s gotten me thinking about an integral part of every day life: a backup plan. There’s no denying that sometimes things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to. But instead of being frustrated, be prepared and make the best out of uncontrollable situations.
In the digital world, just because it lives on the Internet, doesn’t mean it will always be there. Sure, most of the time it lingers in some capacity, but typically not in the fashion you would like or can control again. For example, I’ve seen websites that are completely overtaken by spam. They are turned from content-rich websites to link pages for tickets to the next Justin Bieber concert. Google may still have the old page cached, but even copying the HTML code from there requires heavy lifting as its not clean.
Since I started developing websites, I’ve always kept copies of everything on my computer and then backup the computer once every two months. That may be overly cautious but it gives me peace of mind. I suggest you make sure your website is backed up at least once a month if you update often or every two or three for less often. If someone else designed your website, check what their backup plans are. It’s much better having to recreate a months worth of content instead of years.
One other suggestion: Keep a copy on your computer or backup hard drive and on a cloud-based solution such as DropBox. That way you’ll have a copy in your home or office and in the digital space. Furthermore, companies such as DropBox run their own backup services, so that’s another added layer of protection.
Now that your content is safe if your website is overtaken or there are server issues, what happens if you have no access to updating your website? This can be a little more challenging. Luckily, most content management platforms are operable via a mobile device such as the iPad or iPhone. WordPress, one of the most popular open-source content CMSs has apps for both devices. Even if it’s not the most ideal situation, as long as you can post a message to your viewers letting them know your situation, you should buy yourself some additional time.
Having your website operated through a CMS also allows for a phone call to someone with Web knowledge the access to update your site. I don’t condone passing along your username/password credentials to anyone else, but if you set up an emergency account with restricted privileges, you’ll have a plan in place should you absolutely need to get something up on your website.
These are just a few of the suggestions related to keeping your digital content safe. You spend a lot of time creating and updating in this space and it’s important to make sure your covered should something happen.