Blogging Pitfalls: Going Down With Your (Hosting) Ship
If there is one thing that the recent outages at Amazon Cloud and even the PlayStation Network can show us, it’s that even the best, most reliable companies can have serious problems with their hosting infrstructure and can go down.
Unfortunately, as a blogger, you’re just a passenger on someone else’s ship on the Web. Whether it’s a free hosting service like Blogger or WordPress.com, or you have your own server, most likely, some other company is providing the hosting and the access to you. But as reliable as they might have been in the past or as great as they are now, there’s always a possibility that things could change.
Simply put, hardware breaks, companies get sold and people change jobs. What was great service and support one day could be catastrophic downtime tomorrow and it’s important to be prepared for that possibility at all times. Sadly, this has nothing to do with avoiding unlimited hosting or using a bad host as even the best, most honest hosts can have a problem.
Instead, this is an issue about being prepared for the inevitable, that something will go wrong eventually, and that you don’t want to be the one who goes down with the ship. It’s a grim situation to prepare for, but one that every blogger has to.
After all, just a few moments of preparation can, literally, save you many hours or even days of headache down the road.
Imagine waking up in the morning and finding that your site is offline. Worse still, after checking with your host, you find that the error is not a temporary one but is much more serious, likely requiring hours or even days to fully repair and there’s a possibility that, even after they get back online, that data loss could prevent your site from being restored.
Immediately you’re faced with several difficult questions. Do you stick it out with your current host and wait for things to return? Do you move to another host and set up shop there? Do you even have the capability to move your site and, if you do, how much of your data will make it with you?
For even the best prepared, these are difficult questions without easy answers. For those who aren’t prepared at all, these decisions can feel like choosing your death.
In these situations, you want to be the person with the options rather than the one who has to go down with the ship and hope it eventually rights itself. While it often does, sometimes it doesn’t and you can watch your site, your hard work, your built-up SEO and your audience disappear, forcing you to start over.
Sadly, there’s no easy way out of this situation, but there are steps you can take right now to mitigate any problems and put yourself in a better position when disaster strikes
How to Avoid it
Unfortunately, if you blog long enough, you’re going to get bit by a hosting disaster. Something, somewhere, sometime will go wrong and you’re going to be in a situation where you need to take drastic action to either keep your site online or get back.
So, before you get into a situation where need to take drastic action, it’s important to make sure that you are prepared for a disaster and can respond in an effective, productive way.
On that note, here are a few questions to ask yourself today to avoid a disaster tomorrow.
- Do You Know How to Move Your Site? With today’s one-click installs and blog hosting solutions, it’s possible to create a site without any clue about how to move it or rebuild it. If you are relying on someone else, whether a friend or a company, to do the dirty work for you, you need to make sure that you can take responsibility for your site and can save it if needed.
- Do You Have Backups? Backing up your blog is crucial and it’s important that these backups need to be under your control, not your host’s.
- Do You Know Where You Will Go? Every escape plan needs a destination. Do you know what company or service you will use if you need to leave in a hurry? It’s best to do your research now so you can setup an account immediately rather than having to spend time researching and making a decision.
- Do You Control Your Domains? If you don’t have control over your domain, meaning that you registered it with your host and it is tied to that account, moving becomes a lot more complicated. Likewise, if you don’t have a domain, such as with most free blogging services, moving to a new host means changing URLs and that can be a big problem.
- Do You Have Alternate Means of Contact? Finally, even if you are as well prepared as possible, how are you going to get the word out to your readers that you have the situation in hand? You need to have a Twitter, Facebook and other off-site presences so that you can remain in contact with your readers during your downtime.
While none of these things are very difficult to do, they all require at least some pre-planning, ideally before you even start blogging. However, if your answers to these questions are not to your liking, there’s no time like the present to fix them.
After all, tomorrow could be when things go sour and you have to take drastic action to save your site.
No matter how well prepared you are, hosting disasters are always difficult but they are much easier and much less stressful if you’ve got plans in place when they happen and you’re able to move on quickly.
The situation you don’t want to be in is waiting for your host to fix the situation and see when and if your site will be back online.
You’ve put too much effort and energy into your site to just hope and pray that another company, one you only pay a few dollars per month to, is going to be able to save your blog. You owe it to your self to take responsibility for your site and be prepared should the worst happen.
If you do, some day down the road you will be very, very grateful that you did.