Web hosting is not a 100% thing. I tell people that while most reputable hosts legitimately claim 99% up time things do break. It doesn’t matter whether they are mechanical or electronic. Bad things happen from time to time.

That 99% figure is an average. What that means is that during any given month your web host’s server could be down for 7 hours or more and still qualify. Or, say they only had one outage during the whole year. That same 99% up time claim could be true if the server went down for 3 days straight.

Crazy. But true.

A Recent Case Study

Between Christmas and New Years I noticed a friend’s web site was down. Because April is a close friend of the Cree house I shot her an email, asked what’s up and if there was anything I could do to help.

April said she’d initially panicked when she saw the error message but had already contacted her web host and they were performing a server update. They assured her all would be back to normal shortly.

On April’s web site she’s got two different blogs, My Beautiful Chaos and Making Life Work for You. When the server update was done everything looked like it was OK with her second blog.

But there was some lingering Chaos on My Beautiful Chaos. 🙁

For some reason blog post comments weren’t behaving right. On the front page of the blog there was the usual link that showed how many comments were on the post. But when you clicked on the link it would take you to where the comments should be none were showing.

April and I both double checked the template files to make sure here theme hadn’t somehow gotten corrupted. Everything looked to be correct there. WordPress was calling for the comments but they weren’t getting them from the database.

That meant a corrupted database from the server update was the most likely culprit. So April went back to her web host with that new info.

The best they could do was roll back her database to the previous back up they had – which was a week before the server update.

The good news is that all the comments on the blog before that date were retrieved after the roll back. Fortunately April also had the posts that she’d written since then. But she still lost all the comments that were made in the mean time.

Not an Isolated Incident

Unfortunately April’s not alone in her experience.

I had a similar thing happen myself last December. Only in my case it was a server crash not an update that caused it.

My web host had to roll back to their most recent back-up which was a day or two before the crash. Fortunately like April I had my posts backed up. But also like April I hadn’t backed up any comments so they were lost.

Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is that things break. Computers lock up, need to be reset from time to time. Bad things are probably going to happen at some point.

That age old computer mantra still holds true in the online world, “Save Early. Save Often.”

Back up your web site. Regularly.

If you blog, back up more often. Remember that if the unthinkable happens the most recent back up is all you’ll have. Everything that happened since that time will be lost.

If your site is on WordPress, there is a good WordPress Database Backup plugin available for you. Install it and set to automatically email you a back up of your database once a day or so. Set the frequency based on how much of your data you are willing to loose should the worst happen.

You can also look through the list of WordPress plugins and see if there is another one that might fit your needs better.

When we build in contingency plans to recover from those things are beyond our control we won’t be devastated when the bad things inevitably happen. Sure, nothing offers 100% protection. But we can reduce our risk to an acceptable level with some basic precautions.

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