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How Important Is a Website Recovery Plan?
2020-03-23
Old Moon Digital

On average, websites experience about three hours of downtime each month. Three hours might not seem like a lot. When you think about it, though, and factor in the number of people who may have tried to access your website and couldn’t in those three hours (or longer), that’s a lot of lost opportunities due to site downtime.

No online business owner wants to think about site downtime. It happens to the best of us, though, even if you have a high-quality, well-developed Drupal website.

Read on to learn more about the importance of a website recovery plan to the success of your business, as well as how you can create and implement an effective recovery plan.

Why Do You Need a Website Recovery Plan?

A website recovery plan is essential for every online business. The following are some of the primary reasons why you need to have such a plan for your Drupal website:

Save Money

Site downtime can get expensive, fast. If your business is entirely dependent on the web (for example, you run an e-commerce store), having your site down even for just a few hours could cause you to lose thousands of dollars (or even millions in the case of larger companies).

In addition to the cost of lost customers, you also have to factor in the cost of repairs. If data is lost or exposed during the process as well, it’ll cost even more money for your business to recover it and put new protocols in place to protect your customers (let’s not even talk about the potential lawsuits you might face as a result of a data breach).

Having a website recovery plan helps you to avoid having to pay exorbitant fees to try and fix these issues.

Retain Customers

Have you ever gone to visit a website, only to find that it wasn’t working? Did you go back to that website again in the future? Unless it’s a business you already frequented, chances are you didn’t (or, at the very least, you didn’t go back for a long time).

If your website experiences frequent downtime, even for short periods of time, you could lose out on a lot of potential first-time customers. They might see that your site is down and decide to shop elsewhere for the same products or services that you sell.

 

If you have a website recovery plan in place, you can at least minimize the number of customers you might lose as the result of unplanned downtime.

Identify Problems Faster

When you have a website recovery plan in place, it’s easier for you to get to the bottom of whatever caused the downtime in the first place. This, in turn, helps you to correct the problem and prevent it from wreaking havoc on your business long-term.

Improve Business Reputation

Do you want to be known as the business that’s site is never working properly? In addition to causing you to lose customers (and a ton of money), a lack of website recovery plan can have a negative impact on your business’s reputation.

If you don’t have systems in place to get your site back up as soon as possible, you may find that your company becomes known for a very undesirable problem, rather than for the great work you do.

What Causes Website Downtime?

Most business owners get that website downtime is bad for their companies. They often don’t understand what causes this issue, though. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to website downtime, including the following:

Configuration Problems

Configuration issues, such as a flat interface link on your router, can lead to serious downtime for your website. Something like this can cause web browsing and other essential functions to fail, which is bad news for your online business.

Human Error

Unfortunately, human error is one of the most common culprits behind website downtime. If someone made a mistake when setting up your devices or developing your website, you might be more prone to downtime (and all the negative consequences that come with it).

Environmental Issues

Environmental issues often contribute to site downtime as well. For example, if your HVAC system blows a fuse and the room where you store your equipment becomes overheated, that could lead to serious and expensive problems for your website (and your business as a whole).

Bottlenecks

A bottleneck occurs when systems have disproportionate amounts of contention for resources such as the memory or CPU. When this happens, data flow slows down and the performance of the website gets affected.

How to Create and Implement a Recovery Plan?

If you don’t have recovery a plan for your website in the event that one (or more) of these issues occur, the following tips will help you put one together in no time:

Conduct a Risk Assessment

A good first step when creating a recovery plan is to conduct a risk assessment.

Conducting a risk assessment gives you a chance to identify potential gaps in your website security. It allows you to reflect on the past and consider whether any previous situations (such as having your website hacked) could make your business’s website more vulnerable to future issues.

Think about your industry, too, and consider how vulnerable businesses like yours are to data breaches and other attacks. If you work in an industry like finance, retail, or health care, you’ll need to take extra precautions to maintain your site uptime and prevent disasters.

Conduct a Business Impact Analysis

In addition to a risk assessment, you should also conduct a business impact analysis. This gives you more insight into what the ramifications of prolonged site downtime, data breaches, or other issues for your company.

How much would it cost to get your site back up and running? How much would you lose if it were down for 24 hours? If data was compromised, how much would you have to spend to recover the site and pay for the damages?

Crunching these numbers definitely isn’t fun. Knowing what you stand to lose can help you feel more motivated to prevent downtime from happening, though. It helps you plan better for the future, too.

Understand Possible Disasters

Get clear on all the potential disasters that could affect your website and your business. There are a number of issues that could lead to site downtime and other problems. Besides the issues mentioned above, there’s also the following:

●  Coding errors

●  Malware, spam, or ransomware

●  Software conflicts

●  DDoS Attacks

●  Malicious coding

●  Organic traffic surges

●  Natural disasters on the server-side

The better your understanding is of what could go wrong with your website, the easier it is to prepare yourself and take steps to prevent these issues from happening, such as installing sensors to detect when your devices are becoming overheated.

Establish a Security Protocol

Speaking of prevention, it’s also important to have a clear, well-planned security protocol in place. Having a security protocol inside and outside of your Drupal website (or any other type of hosted site) will help you to avoid a myriad of problems and make it easier for you to get your site back up if it ever goes down.

Part of your security protocol ought to include using a trusted security plug-in. You should also be sure to update your site on a regular basis to make it less vulnerable to hackers and other issues. Regular backups (more on those in a minute) should play a big role in your protocol as well.

Limit Access

Limiting the number of people who have access to the backend of your business’s website helps to reduce the risk of human error leading to site downtime. Make sure that only those who really need to access the backend are able to do so.

At the very least, you ought to limit the number of people who have full access to the backend of the site. Be very selective about the level of responsibility these people have. It might seem a bit pedantic now, but it can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Schedule Backups

If you make it a priority to backup your website on a regular basis, you’ll have a much easier time restoring it in the event that damage occurs or your site goes down altogether.

It’s also a good idea to create and store backups of your website on a cloud-based platform. This helps you recover the website faster and minimize the amount of damage caused by prolonged downtime or a potential attack or pandemic issue. When you backup your site in this way, you can often restore it in a matter of minutes, rather than hours or day.

Schedule backups so that they occur once a week. You may want to schedule them even more often if you’re part of a vulnerable industry.

Define Monitoring Methods

Consistent monitoring helps you avoid prolonged site downtime. It also alerts you to potential issues right away, before they can develop into serious problems. 

Remember, having a plug-in on your website doesn’t count as sufficient monitoring. It’s better to use more robust tools or to work with a monitoring service that can provide round-the-clock support and alert you to an issue as soon as it occurs.

This might cost more upfront, but it’ll save you a lot of money later, so don’t skimp when it comes to monitoring.

Appoint a Disaster Response Team

If possible, depending on the overall size of your business, appoint a disaster response team.

This is a group of people who are responsible for making sure the website recovery plan gets carried out. They know how to recognize potential issues and also know what to do if a data breach or other problem occurs.

Having a disaster response team, or at least an individual in charge of disaster response, can help you get problems solved faster. It helps to mitigate the feelings of panic that arise as a result of site downtime, too.

But, Train Everyone

It’s a good idea to have a person or group of people in charge of website recovery and disaster response. At the same time, though, you should also make sure everyone on your team understands the basics of website recovery and has knowledge of the recovery plan. That way, they won’t accidentally do anything that gets in the way of the website recovery process or contributes to site downtime.

This also helps everyone to feel confident and capable and increases the likelihood that they’ll be able to spot a potential problem right away. Remember, the better trained your staff is, the safer your business will be. 

Create a List of Contacts

In the event of site downtime or other issues, you’re going to need to call in experts to get the problem fixed as quickly as possible. To speed things up, it helps to have a list of contacts at the ready.

This list should include numbers for the web hosting company, your incident response team, and the administrators of your website. You may want to include the owner of your website (if you don’t own it yourself) and your company’s legal team.

If a problem occurs, contact the people on this list as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can get your site fixed and begin damage control.

Test Your Plan

Finally, test your website recovery plan. Make sure everyone understands what their role is and what they need to do if something goes wrong.

Conduct drills a few times per year, too. That way, you provide everyone with a refresher and can answer any questions or address potential changes that need to be made.

If anyone balks at the idea of taking time out of their workday for a website recovery drill, remind them of the huge expenses and other problems that can arise if the site goes down. That ought to change their attitude right away.

Start Working on Your Recovery Plan Today

As you can see, it’s imperative that you have a recovery plan in place for your website. If you don’t have a recovery plan in place yet, now’s the time to create one.

Follow the steps outlined above and you’ll be able to come up with a plan that works for you and your employees and gets your site back up and running as soon as possible.

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