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Realising your website has gone down is always panic-inducing, but it’s much worse when it happens on a bank holiday. Here’s our suggestions for what to do if this happens to you. Even if the worst never happens, the disaster recovery tips we suggest will help you deal with big problems and small ones.
You log on and suddenly realise you can’t see your business’s home page. The first thing to check is your local set up – has the internet connection gone down? Are you behind a content filter, such as parental control? Check your site through a different connection (e.g. on your phone) and call a friend or colleague to get a second confirmation.
For some businesses, bank holidays and weekends are very low traffic days. If that applies to you, send your website development team or system admin an email, and make sure you speak to them first thing when you’re back in the office.
Hindsight says: make sure you know who to contact in an emergency.
At this point, you need to call your system administrator or web development team if you have one.
Hindsight says: make sure you have emergency phone numbers for your team, and know who will be able to deal with a problem on their day off. Have someone ‘on call’, standing by to fix any problems that appear.
Try to figure out where the problem is: is your website corrupted? Is there a message from your hosting company appearing? Try to log into your website’s backend – this may tell you if the server is down or if the site has been hacked. Make a note of any error messages.
Hindsight says: Hire a professional to deal with the hassle next time!
Call your hosting company. They should be able to tell you if the problem is at their end (in which case they’ll fix it) or if your site has gone down for another reason. They may also be able to help if you’ve been hacked by wiping your site entirely or resetting your log-ins and passwords so you can access your website development tool-kit again.
Hindsight says: know who your hosting is with and how to contact them out of office hours.
If your site is corrupted or has been replaced by a hacker, the simplest thing to do is to restore it from a backup. The documentation for your content management system should be able to help, or if you bought a complete package from your hosting provider, they may do it for you.
Hindsight says: make sure you have a back up you can access when the site itself is down.