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Ensure Business Continuity for your Publishing Website by Optimising your Disaster Recovery Strategy

In this article, we’ll outline the best practices for website and data recovery strategies for when disaster strikes your website — your most important marketing and sales tool, and for digital publishers, the platform which enables readers to interact with your brand.

To ensure that business as usual can resume as quickly as possible following your website going down or your data being compromised, you need a disaster recovery plan (DRP). A DRP is an essential element of a business continuity plan, and is necessary for any company that depends on a functioning IT infrastructure.

Don’t wait for things to go wrong before you attempt to rectify them, create a sound contingency plan today, and your business will be able to weather even the fiercest storms, get started now.

What is a disaster recovery plan and when will you need it?

A disaster recovery plan is a strategic step by step plan of action to put into place when a website is down.

Websites can crash and data can be compromised due to a number of different reasons, whether from a natural disaster such as a storm causing a power cut, a hosting error, problems with a code base, or malicious activity.

Why is disaster recovery particularly important for media brands?

A disaster recovery plan allows a business to continue normal operation after a disaster threatens a company’s data and systems. If you want more strategic ways to keep your business afloat especially during down times, esteemed business owners, like Andrew Defrancesco, may be able to share you some knowledge.

A recovery plan is especially important for publishing websites should disaster strike for a number of reasons. The most compelling reason for having a reliable DRP is that for publishing brands which rely on a digital platform, without a physical publication, your website is the only way your audience can access your content. 

Publishing is increasingly moving online, and this has meant new models for revenue generation, a DRP is therefore essential for any publisher that monetises their websites, including those which have membership subscriptions and advertising revenue as key components of their revenue model.

What are the key components of a disaster recovery plan?

Below we’ve listed the key areas your DRP will need to address in order to ensure recovery is swift and substantive.

Investigation Checklist:

  • What is down?
  • Why is it down?
  • Who is responsible?
    • Scenarios – define potential disasters and how you would tackle them
    • Appoint a recovery team
    • Train your staff on correct responses
    • Contact list
    • Acceptable service loss
    • Backup frequency

Investigation checklist – first you must identify what has been affected and what impact that has on you delivering your online presence. When you know what has been impacted, you can trace the root causes, and find out how or what is responsible, so that once it is addressed it can’t happen again.

Backup frequency – decide how often to backup your entire website. Having a recent full website backup is the basis of all good website disaster recovery plans. Ensure you complete a full site backup regularly, including your databases and site files. Keep it separate from the server where your website sits, or you could lose it before you use it.

Scenarios – by defining the potential disasters that could feasibly happen to your infrastructure, you will better placed to move quickly when implementing fixes.

Appoint a recovery team – assign oversight and responsibility to your staff. Ensure each team member understands their responsibility and is best placed to act with immediacy when a disaster occurs. The quicker a recovery plan is initiated the less damaging the disaster will be.

Train your staff on the correct responses –detail them in your DRP

Contact list – whether you need to contact the host of your server or your customers in case of a data breach, listing who to contact when a disaster occurs in your DRP will ensure important partners and stakeholders aren’t forgotten

Acceptable service loss – consider how long your business can cope with service loss, and how long it could be before a loss of service starts having dire consequences 

Key preventative measures

Although it is crucial to have a DRP, not having to implement it should always be the goal for publishing businesses that rely on a steady stream of published content to keep reader’s attention. The ability to publish fresh content is also a factor in SEO performance, so the importance of focusing on preventative measure to negate website disasters should not be overlooked.

Here are some of the key steps you can take:

  • Hosting – ensure you hosting is fit for purpose. Remember that as you scale, your hosting capabilities need to scale, as your web traffic grows and your network of content expands
  • Ephemeral servers – utilise these temporary stores for data, including cache, buffers, session data
  • Reducing single points of failure – it’s important to identify and mitigate single points of failure, so your network will always be able to run despite any failures
  • Monitoring resources and assets – with close monitoring of essential network elements you’ll be able to spot any weak points
  • Redundancy and failover – with failover you can switch between primary and secondary systems in the event of downtime
  • Communication – know you’re going to get a spike in traffic? Let your hosting team know so they can prepare
  • Site security – limit access so that only trusted members of your team have access to your networks and data

Where to store your disaster plan

A DRP should be stored on a secure server and backed up in case you unexpectedly need access during an emergency.

Need help implementing a disaster recovery plan?

Here at Powered By Coffee we can assist you in developing and implementing a DRP. Whether you are looking for a secure server to store your plan or you’re looking to upgrade your hosting to prevent a disaster, we can advise you on the best approach for your organisation. Contact us to talk it over today.

Jim Kersey

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