A few weeks ago I published a post stating that having your Facebook page disabled is a small businesses worst nightmare. I was wrong, I retract that statement. Your website going down, and taking your e-mail account with, it is in fact your worst nightmare. Which is precisely what happened to countless business owners yesterday when the GoDaddy server encountered a glitch and took down a hefty portion of the Internet.
While the outage lasted less than 8 hours, the repercussions of this glitch are likely to be felt for months to come, as users are now flocking to leave the hosting company, with the help of articles like this. In business terms, 8 hours outage can lead to a huge loss in sales and productivity. Just think about how many visitors you have coming to your site in a single day. And what if you couldn’t access your emails for an entire day?
While we still don’t know the definitive cause for the outage, many are saying that anonymous was not to blame, and therefore it wasn’t a security breach. While this is good news for users who decide to stay with GoDaddy, it also means that it could happen to any web hosting service. Remember the Amazon cloud outage that took down Instagram, Netflix, and Pinterest earlier this year?
So how can small businesses protect themselves from server down time?
1. First things first, go with a reliable and reputable web hosting company. In hosting terms, you really get what you pay for, so if you go for the cheapest option, don’t be surprised if the service is sub par. Reading reviews from other users is important, but try to keep it in context; who is more likely to post a review, a user experiencing no problems, or an irate customer who can’t access their emails?
2. Use a variety of platforms. After the GoDaddy outage, there were reports of small businesses suffering because their entire company is based online. If you host a large portfolio on your website, consider backing it up elsewhere so that you can direct users to it in a crisis. Images can be hosted on FlickR, videos can be hosted on YouTube or vimeo, you could even host a simplified contact page on about.me.
3. Have a back up e-mail address that is recognisable as your company. Also, make sure your contacts are backed up remotely. While this isn’t ideal, it can save you from a sticky situation if you need to contact someone.
4. Social media. Having a strong social media presence means that customers will have an alternative way to contact them, and you can reach out to them, too. And if you’re ever part of a widespread outage, why not use the added publicity to direct people to your business via social media?
5. Back up everything. Don’t assume that your website being hosted on a server means it’s automatically safe. Back up of all your files, pages, and content. If you don’t know how to do this, make friends with someone who does, you’ll thank them if your site ever goes AWOL.