Don't Let This Happen To Your Website

from Sharon Odom-Fling 

Ok, the first thing I’m going to share with you has nothing to do with local business per se, it’s a valuable reminder for any business that has a website and relies on that website for income.

Make sure that your website is backed up at all times and can be restored at a moment’s notice. You’d think that someone who has been online for as many years as I have wouldn’t get caught looking the other way.

Yet, while I was in California on vacation, my server was hacked, along with many others hosted with my ISP. I found out about it last week, 2 days after I got back.

Theories abound as to how it happened, but finger pointing and the blame game can come later… the important thing was to restore each of the 76 sites on my server to its original state. The sites looked normal at first glance, but some nasty code had been added to many of the pages that made Google think that we were distributing malware. Not good.

I thought I had prepared for this — daily backups had been scheduled when I first got the server. I made it very clear that backups were important and needed to be done like clockwork. And they were. At first.

Do you see where this is going?

Yes, at some point, somehow, some way, I ran out of space and didn’t have enough for backups anymore. The drive was 60% utilized and the backups are zipped so there should have been enough space, but whatever. The last backup was 2 months old — arrgh!

Ok, well, no use whining about it after the fact. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. Got the server people to run a script to clean all the pages. It took 3 times, but it finally worked.

Next, the issue of backups. In addition to the scheduled backups on the server, I signed on with an external company so they will be maintained in another place. Daily. Automatically. No running out of space.

Finally, find another hosting company, one that specializes in dedicated servers. That took the longest but I finally decided on a high end hosting company that will actually manage the server for me, keeping an eye on things and making sure nothing like this happens again. And to be on the safe side, I hired an external server management company to fill in any gaps in the hosting company’s coverage.

Yes, it’s going to cost me a couple hundred dollars more a month for all of this “insurance” but if it will keep me from having to endure another week like the one I just went through, it will be so worth it.

And now, I need another vacation!

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