Set Up Your Site’s Crash Plan

Administrators – at least the ones who actually know how to do their job – already know that no network is completely safe from crashes and outages regardless of how good the administrators are and how robust their systems are, but the August 2003 widespread power outage in the U.S. Northeast hammered the point home, with many firms at that time suffering their first lengthy downtime in many years.

There are a few things that weren’t part of people’s crash plans in the past and were considered overkill, that are now shown to be needed after the August 2003 blackout took out many big name sites. If you want to set up your site’s crash plan and be ready for unexpected outages, you should add the following things to your list:

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Get a Remote and Redundant Server

CERN Server

This is one of those things that people will say overkill, and to be frank, it is overkill for most people. But for large websites that rely on availability, or big organizations where downtimes could mean loss of profit, a remote and redundant server is a must. Why remote? As the aforementioned outage proves – a redundant backup server is useless if the very incident that took your servers down affects the redundant backup servers as well. These incidents include calamities and so-called acts of god. In most situations, a remote and redundant server will allow a business to resume operations quickly, or even to continue operating even if the main servers have gone down.

Granted that maintaining a remote redundant server can be very expensive, but there are alternatives for the budget-strapped individuals or businesses:

Get a CDN Account

A Content Distribution/Delivery Network or CDN basically does the same thing as a remote redundant server, where it mirrors your entire website on various data centers located in different places. The main purpose of a CDN is to make data transfer between your server and users faster, but it also has the effect of ensuring that the site is at least partly reachable in the event that the main server goes down. Maintaining a CDN is cheaper than running your own remote datacenter, but the downside is that you won’t have much control over the content on the CDN, as it simply mirrors the website on the main servers. This makes it a little bit useless if, say, you need to do updates or change the entire website while the main servers are down.

Remote Offsite Backups

Remote Offsite Backups are arguably the cheapest contingency plan for major outages and crashes, but compared to the above solutions it won’t provide enough agility. Basically, you keep backups of your entire website, but you keep it in a remote location so that you have a means of restoring the site back to the server when it comes back up, or to another one if you need it immediately. The biggest downside to this is that yes, downtimes are still expected while you restore the backups, but it should enough to prevent you from losing everything during a crash.

One Response to “Set Up Your Site’s Crash Plan”

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