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website trashed

Hundreds of websites deleted & no backups to restore !

News this week about a problem at a UK based hosting company, which resulted in the deletion of hundreds of websites from their servers, highlighted the importance of ensuring you keep regular (external) backups.

BBC News last weekend (18th April 2015) reported that a UK based hosting company had a major problem during maintenance which led to all the websites on 67 of their servers being deleted. This is only a small number compared to their total number of servers of 115,000 situated across Europe but is still significant and was of course disastrous for the businesses who’s websites were affected.

The hosting company, 123-reg, would not acknowledge exactly how many websites were involved but they apparently host around 1.7 million websites in the UK so even though the damage was limited to a small number of these virtual private servers (VPS) they typically each host hundreds of individual websites so there are a lot of very unhappy businesses out there.

Unfortunately, 123-reg do not include a backup service within their standard VPS packages, although they do appear to offer an add-on backup package, which means in many cases they do not have any backups for these websites so unless the customer had set up their own backup process, it could mean that the data is lost.

123-reg have commenced a “recovery process”, but have advised customers who have their own backup data to rebuild their own websites.

It is always wise for any website to ensure it includes an automated backup to a remote server (i.e. separate to the hosting server) so that in cases like this, the site can easily be re-built quickly should such a disaster occur or if the site is hacked.

Without such backup data, it means in most cases having to re-build the site from scratch again. This obviously takes time and incurs costs, plus of course the potential loss of business whilst the website is not available. For a business with a popular e-commerce site this could be disastrous!

If a website is hacked and malicious code is uploaded, it may not even be obvious that the site has been infected for quite some time so it is important to make sure your backups are set up correctly and multiple backups, dating back a reasonable period of time are kept so that you can minimise the risk.

I have in the past come across websites that have backup systems in place but have been poorly configured such that they backed up to the same server and backed up daily which means that all the backups were infected as well rendering them useless.

Have you got a remote backup set up on your website ? Be safe not sorry.

Steve Wood owns and runs Scalar Enterprises based in Portsmouth in Hampshire. He offers a range of services including Web design and Internet marketing to small businesses and SMEs in Hampshire and the surrounding areas.

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