Risk management – website recovery

News: June 2011

Risk management – website recovery

Your website is like a shop window for your business. It must therefore be up to date and available at all times. It is important to have a suitable disaster recovery plan. The first part of your plan should include a complete written overview of your website detailing your web address(es), hosting provider, logon and passwords. This plan should also include details of where backup files for the site itself are located.

The next part of your plan should detail how your business would deal with the complete and permanent loss of the infrastructure that hosts your website. In most cases the hosting is outsourced to a hosting provider; however, some firms host their website on their own in-house server. As a backup, the business should have a written procedure for switching the hosting account to a new hosting provider in the case of a disaster. This written procedure should include all relevant details including the name of the designated hosting account holder in your business, logon and password details for the existing hosting account. It should also include contact details for key staff, suppliers and other relevant people.

For smaller websites the procedure may be as simple as buying a new hosting package and putting the site onto this. For larger sites your business might require a temporary solution using rented systems / server capacity whilst new permanent solutions can be purchased and set up.

Now that you have a detailed written disaster recovery plan, it is worth making a digital copy of the plan and storing it on a CD or USB key in a fireproof safe (preferably off the company premises) in case of fire. Finally, you should review the disaster recovery plan periodically and keep it up to date.

Your business environment is dynamic and constantly changing – your disaster recovery plan needs to reflect this. Once a year, you should test the disaster recovery plan to ensure everything works and nothing has been omitted. It will not be necessary to switch off the live site, but testing the plan in terms of allowing your team to practice their role in getting a site back up and running will pay off in the case of an actual disaster.