What are your contingency plans?

by Martin Reed on 7 June 2007 in Articles

A few months ago, I wrote about the importance of backing up your site so that should your hosting fail, you have a copy of your site to restore. This article will go through the additional contingency plans that we should all have in place.

The importance of contingency plans

If one component of your site fails, what will you do? If you don’t have contingency plans in place you will suffer an increase in downtime if something untoward happens to your site.

If you have plans in place, as soon as a component fails you can replace it and keep downtime to a minimum.

Areas requiring contingency plans

As a minimum, you should have contingency plans in place for any failures in the following areas:

  • Web hosting
  • Revenue streams
  • Software
  • Staff / moderators

Web hosting contingency plans

Web hostingIt is important that you research and find an alternative web host so that your site can easily be moved should something go wrong with your current host. Just think about how much research you undertook to find your current host. Sometimes it can take days or even weeks to find a suitable web host for your site.

You will want to research a host’s specifications, reliability and support capabilities along with the all important price factor. It is also worth finding out what other people have to say about a host.

You hardly want to be going through all this after your current host fails. You will not carry out comprehensive research and will more than likely end up making a bad choice.

Spend the time now to research and find an alternative web host that you would be happy to move to should something disastrous happen.

Revenue stream contingency plans

Google AdSenseDo you generate a large proportion of your revenue using Google AdSense? What would happen if you are suddenly banned? What would happen if your eCPM dropped through the floor?

Always have a backup plan for an alternative revenue stream. You may have discounted one in the past as it pays out less than those you currently use. You should still keep them in mind though, should the worst happen with your current revenue stream.

Again, do your research now – run some tests with a variety of advertising networks. Should something happen with your current revenue streams, it will then be quick and easy to replace them and minimise any financial loss.

Software contingency plans

Software screenshotWhat software is your site running? What would happen if that software were to be discontinued? What if an exploit is found in the software and the author refuses to release a patch? Always have a backup plan in place – research the alternative software packages available to you before you need them.

Some may even come with ‘upgrade’ scripts enabling you to easily transfer the data from one software script and database to the new one.

Do your research now and have these alternatives bookmarked or written down so you can move over should the worst happen with your current software solution(s).

Staff / moderator contingency plans

Forum moderators

Do you rely on your moderators or staff to keep your site running smoothly? What would happen if one or more suddenly left? Perhaps they will resign, or perhaps they will all leave simultaneously and set up their own rival site!

It is essential to have a contingency plan in place should any of your staff leave. Have a plan in place for how you will recruit new staff or moderators – perhaps prepare a shortlist of people to invite should such an exodus occur.

Make sure that you are not overly reliant on a single staff member – make sure that if any of your staff members were to leave, you would be able to take over their role at least for the short term.

Your contingency plans

Has your site suffered because you failed to have contingency plans in place? Have you made contingency plans? Do you think the whole concept is a waste of time and effort? Whatever your opinions, share them by leaving a comment below.

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Smiley June 7, 2007 at 10:35 pm

Yes, I buggered up a few months ago, forgot to back everything up, had to make the site from scratch again.

Now I back up atleast 4 times a day.

As for staff, I just do everything myself for now, although I have people on a staff list, they’re not active yet. No point on a brand new site is there? Perhaps several months down the line.

Revenue, I just use Google for now, but looking into others. I’m on a tight budget, can’t afford advertising yet, so, I need the revenue really, now I’m going it alone without funding.

Good thought provoking post. It never even came across my mind to have backup host/ads/software.

Although I am looking for new chat software, as the new Chat Forum seems a tad too laggy for my liking.

David Culpepper June 8, 2007 at 3:54 am

Excellent post Martin! I do regular site backups but never considered having a backup plan in place for all aspects of my online presence. Thank you.

Chicago 2016 June 8, 2007 at 4:37 am

How good are Yahoo ads supposed to be?

Smiley June 8, 2007 at 9:10 am

Doesn’t Yahoo just use the same system as Google? I tried signing up to Adbrite which seems to be becoming more popular, but the page doesn’t seem to work. There’s been an error for 2 weeks and they still haven’t fixed it – a sign of unreliability!

I’m looking at Bidvertiser next, which also seems to be increasing in popularity.

Joseph June 8, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Very nice article. I would also add that depending on the size and nature of the community, to document the processes used internally so you can have a document to refer to later and also allow the ability to share the redundancy with a peer.

~ J

Martin Reed June 9, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Smiley – You backup 4 times per day?!? Now that really is a strong safety net! Good luck on your search for additional advertisers.

David – Thanks for your comment; I am glad the article was useful for you. We are so often told about the importance of backing up our data, but other things we rely on are often forgotten. I think it is really important to have backup plans for all aspects of your site.

Daniel – I’ve never used the Yahoo! Publisher Network as I am in the UK. I hear that their relevancy targeting is nowhere near as good as Google AdSense. I know that Yahoo! used to offer huge payouts but these now seem to be dropping down to a far more realistic level.

Joseph – That is a great idea, thanks for raising it by posting a comment. I often wonder what would happen to my sites if the worst happened; having all your processes well documented would certainly be beneficial.

Smiley June 10, 2007 at 1:06 am

LOL. I forgot to backup once and everything went tits up, had to re-do EVERYTHING. So I backup the files once a day, and the SQL 4 times a day. Atleast then if something goes wrong, my posters won’t be annoyed about having to repeat the posts they made much earlier in the day.

Martin Reed June 10, 2007 at 2:47 pm

I always say that once you realise the importance of backing up from experience with things going wrong, you never repeat the same mistake again! It’s certainly a great learning experience if nothing else!

Smiley June 10, 2007 at 6:49 pm

We learn from our mistakes and improve from those very lessons, huh?

Martin Reed June 10, 2007 at 10:33 pm

Precisely! Well, at least we should be learning from our mistakes!

Shane June 13, 2007 at 7:25 am

A backup plan is so important … especially for continuity. I back up everything regularly. Twice!

Martin Reed June 13, 2007 at 3:50 pm

Hey Shane – thanks for your comment. I am impressed by the number of people backing up their files daily. Do you also have other contingency plans in place like those I mentioned in this article?

So many people think that if they back up their files they are safe. Not true!

Jack Book June 15, 2007 at 9:35 am

nice post tough.
thanks, but since my blog hosted on blogger.com, i never think about to backing up my blog.

just let them do it for us. blogger.com since it belongs to google, should be trustable right? how do you think?

Martin Reed June 18, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Hi Jack – thanks for your comment. I think even if you are hosted by Blogger, you should still make the effort to backup your content.

I am sure there is a clause in your agreement with Google that says they are not responsible for any loss of data.

Why take the chance when it only takes a few minutes to back up compared to the weeks/months/years it would take to replace all the lost content?

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