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Blog Outages – Lessons Learned

Published August 29, 2010 - 2 Comments

The recent blog outages have certainly driven home a couple of lessons.

  • Stay on top of the financials.  When you pay for a service on a yearly basis, it’s easy to forget to update your financial records if something changes.  In this case there was a change of credit card information that did not get updated with the service provider.  The wrong card was charged, and it all went downhill from there.
  • Verify contact information.  Not only was the wrong credit card on file, but I also noticed that a now-defunct email address was used as the contact information for all my websites.  This wasn’t really an issue this time, because I could quite clearly see that my account was in trouble, but had the service provider attempted to contact me through email, they wouldn’t have been able to.
  • Backup regularly and test the backups!  I used to have a plugin set to send me a weekly copy of my WordPress file that could be used to restore my blog to a previous point in the event of a catastrophic failure… like the one that I just had!  For some reason, I stopped using that plugin… probably because I was tired of getting the constant emails.  That was a mistake.  In theory I could have restored the blog, or have re-created it on another server.  PowWeb does have an automatic backup/restore option, but it does not include SQL databases, which makes it kinda useless for my needs.  Trust me, I tried it.  Twice.
  • Redundancy.  I mentioned this is in an earlier post, but I’ve heard of online marketers who use two separate webhosting services for their sites.  Only one can actively host a site at a time, but in the event of a failure, you can easily log in and redirect the DNS to point to the backup hosting service.  It’s an insurance policy.  I don’t really see myself requiring this until I start to make some money with this stuff… but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind.  Webhosting runs a little over $100 for the year, which is far less than I would have lost during these outages had this been my primary source of income.
  • The message must get through.  This is something that was drilled into my head years ago when I was part of the Communication Reserves.  You do whatever you have to, to make sure the message gets through.  I’m lucky.  In the case of WaS, most loyal readers are friends in real life and I was able to tell them what was going on through txt, email, or voice.  But it really hit home the need for an alternate channel to ensure that readers (and eventually consumers / clients) were informed.  I had been toying with the idea of adding a newsletter subscription service to the growing arsenal of tools.  Now, it’s an absolute high priority.  You can expect to see Aweber newsletter services offered here shortly.

Hopefully these outages are a thing of the past, but all things considered, the lessons learned have been a positive experience.  Better to go through these pains now, when the stakes are much lower.