When your website goes offline, what can you do?

This week has seen many business customers of the 123-reg website hosting platform lose their entire website for several days due to a clean-up process going wrong. Even yesterday The Register reported that some 123-reg customers were still offline. So what can you do to resolve these issues. Through this brief article we’ll suggest ways to help avoid website disasters.

Make backups of your websites frequently

No system is perfect and even Google in August 2015 lost a series of web servers in Belgium after a lightning strike. Therefore even if you’re using the cloud no data is safe to corruption. To help get your site back up and running without waiting for a host to reinstate your website for you, you should keep regular copies of your website backed up somewhere safe. Every time you make a major change to your website make a quick backup to the files on your FTP and any databases you may use. If you’re sensible it’s also wise to check these backups are actually working on a separate server or on your local machine. Think also about keeping your backups on separate drives or even in different secure locations should your computer fail or get stolen.

Contact your host to get your website back online

Sometimes website downtime is not always immediately noticed and if you’re able to spot it first contact your host or the website agency maintaining your website straight away to alert them to the website being offline. Check for any maintenance schedules which could be affecting your hosting and if the issue is taking longer than expected chase up. Often issues with hosting can be resolved fairly quickly but ask about the causes and what the host will be doing in future to prevent it happening again – if it’s possible. Your host can also help you to roll back to a previous snapshot of your website if you’re not able to do so yourself, saving many hours but at the risk of losing content prior to the last back up.

Resolve domain name connection issues

Not all websites go down because of hosting complications. Sometimes your domain name settings (DNS) can be changed or even become corrupt by the registrar in rare cases. Therefore, to monitor the if there is any connectivity issue there are DNS check tools like Pingdom which can diagnose if the domain is routing correctly to your servers. Getting in contact with your domain registrar or website agency who maintains your domain is the first port of call.

My website’s under attack from hackers

Hackers are people who like to cause havoc with your website system software, often finding holes in web server software or popular scripts to take a website down completely, or even post their own (often defamatory) comments or agendas on your website. Therefore you should always ensure your website software and hosting platform is up-to-date to prevent script kiddies and criminals holding your website to ransom. If you can’t figure out how to do this yourself ask your web agency to do this for you. You can often find this is included as part of a monthly web package to improve other parts of your website, just like we do here at Design for Digital as part of our website services packages.

I’m having a DDoS attack

Sophisticated criminals and can flood your website (or the server your website is on) with thousands or millions of computer requests (visits) to make your website’s server crumble under the pressure, as it’s bandwidth is taken over – think of a motorway that can’t cope with millions of cars on it, everything slows to a crawl. This is called a Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and is still to this day difficult for even high profile tech companies to combat. Therefore if your website is slowing to a crawl or worse still failing to load, check your server logs or Google Analytics data to see if there is a spike in your website traffic. Often your hosts will alert affected customers to the problem but there is little they can do apart from switching servers which can take hours to propagate, so it’s often the case that you have to wait the attack out. There are solutions out there who provide a paid for service to combat against DDoS attacks, helping to limit access to your server from these troublesome computers and IP addresses but this can be very costly for most companies and sometimes have a limited effect. It’s a very serious problem for companies and governments so don’t think you’re alone, there are going to be solutions eventually to limit the effect of these attacks in future.

WordPress backups and maintenance in Bath

Running a business and finding the time to add new content to your website, let alone updating website scripts and making backups can take its toll. Therefore here at Design for Digital we help our clients in Bath with the daily website tasks from maintenance, backups all the way to writing engaging blog articles, allowing them to concentrate on what they do best for their business. We’re experts in setting up domains and web hosting so we can take away the stress of working it out yourself or dealing with multiple companies (domain provider, hosts, web designer, web developer, etc.). Should your website go offline (it’s unlikely but no system is perfect) we can help recognise the what is causing the problem and endeavour to rectify it quickly with minimal downtime to your business website. If that sounds like a godsend to your business, please get in touch and we can discuss a website maintenance package to suit your needs.

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