Once Your Website Is Live. . .Now What?

A client’s website crashed. This was a new client and we had not built his website, but we were preparing the site for revisions. I hated to give them the news. It wasn’t our fault, but it’s still not news you want to deliver. In most cases, there’s a solution of some sorts, but at the time, we were in the dark.

With a day the site was running again. It was a virus. What we learned is valuable for every client. Read on to limit the risk of this happening to your site.

  1. Back-up copy. The site crashed when we tried to make a back-up copy of the site. We were making changes to the navigation and content of the site, and didn’t want to work on the live site.
  2. Virus protection. We learned that the site had a virus and when the virus detected the attempt to back up the site, it crashed the site.
  3. Content creation. This particular site was housed at GoDaddy and they had made a copy of the site 4 days earlier. This earlier copy was used to get the site up and running again. But what we learned was that 3 key pages – the pages that describe their services – were blank. Luckily, we had content that we could cut and paste on those pages, so down time was minimum.
  4. Scanning the back-up copy. Before we could move forward to make the edits to the site, we had to scan the back-up copy of the site for viruses. And then, we could finally make our own copy, for editing.

Lesson learned. All this because of a virus. While the virus had yet to demonstrate itself to the client, it was just a matter of time. Earlier this year, I had a call from another company, not yet a client, whose website had become infected. The search engine no longer worked and the phone number on the site was wiped out. We got that one up and running too.

Both website problems may have been avoided if the hosting service had updated the applications regularly. Often the new releases of various website applications are created to help improve server security and performance. So each time an update becomes available, it’s wise to update your site.

Hosting service. For my own website, I use a hosting service to do this. It’s part of what I pay monthly ($40) for them to host my site. Frankly, I don’t want to get involved with updating my application – just in case something goes wrong. Instead, when they do it, they first make sure the site has been backed up, then they update the application. That way, if something does go wrong, they have a copy to install and replace the damaged site.

Whether from a virus or hacking, sites do go down occasionally. Admittedly, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s gut wrenching. Keeping your application updated can help.

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