Website and online network disasters have a variety of causes, from human error to device failure, to fire, floods and earthquakes. And whilst there is little way of predicting when they are going to happen, it’s Sod’s law that it will be when you least expect it and when it’s most inconvenient. So, to help, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you avoid disasters and to help you recover should the worst happen.
Before we provide the solutions, it is helpful to understand exactly what we mean by disaster. When it comes to websites or online networks, a disaster is when you go offline. If you are not able to get back on again, then the situation can be catastrophic. In essence, there are only two things that can prevent you getting back online either you have no alternative hardware available or your data and software have been lost.
How to avoid disaster
When it comes to hardware failure, avoiding disaster means that you need to have alternative hardware and software applications in place that can kick in as soon as possible after the operating server goes down. It’s also important that you carefully monitor your system.
The importance of server monitoring
Whilst you cannot tell when human error and environmental damage will happen, there are ways to monitor the health of your system. For example, eUKhost’s server monitoring will constantly monitor your server, network devices uptime, performance and available resources to ensure your server and network devices always remain online and in top condition. These monitoring systems are designed to check server load, CPU and RAM usage, disk IO performance, running services, partition usage, RAID health and much more, thereby helping to prevent disasters happening.
Traditional disaster recovery methods
Using traditional disaster recovery methods, private network users will need to have a backup server primed and ready to go at all times. If you have a private network, this involves purchasing and maintaining other servers and ensuring that the software you need to run your system is in place. Ideally, these servers should be in a geographically different location from your main IT centre so that if the cause of you going offline is a flood or fire, the backup server will not be affected.
To ensure you have a thorough backup in place, you will need the following:
- secure premises to house the backup servers together with power and cooling
- enough capacity to scale the environment
- onsite IT support to maintain the infrastructure
- an ISP contract that provides the backup site with enough bandwidth
- firewalls, routers, switches and load balancers
- capacity to run all your mission-critical services
The downside to this is that it means you need to invest heavily in resources just in case of a failure. For the vast majority of time, these expensive backup resources will be redundant. If you have a dedicated server package with a web host, it is possible that they will have a mirrored server already in place at another site and the switch can be done relatively quickly without much of a delay and without the expense of having to run your own alternative system.
Cloud disaster recovery methods
There are two ways you can use the cloud for hardware disaster recovery, depending on what kind of system you have. If you have a private network, you can use the cloud just as a backup system so that you do not need to go to the expense of investing in a second data centre. In this case, you can store your data in the cloud and should a disaster occur you can failover to a virtual machine to run your network until your own servers are restored.
This will require you to configure your cloud environment in advance so that if you need to failover, getting back online can be done much quicker. One of the other advantages of cloud disaster recovery is that you can scale your requirements as needed, thus saving money over the long term.
If your system is entirely hosted in the cloud, then the virtual machines that run your operations can be migrated between clustered servers to avoid any hardware issues that have been detected, all whilst maintaining the state of your VM.
Here at eUKhost, for example, we leverage the latest technologies and hyper-converged enterprise cloud design, to produce a system that guards against anything from hard disk failure to an entire server failure. This helps us ensure that your mission critical applications will be available 100% of the time and that downtime will be a thing of the past.
Disaster recovery from data loss
Besides hardware failure, the other cause of a disaster is data loss. Again, this can be caused by many things; accidental deletion, corrupted storage, hacking and even ransomware encryption. There are, however, a number of simple precautions and solutions to this problem.
The solution: remotely backup your data
Quite simply, if you back up your data and your software, then if you lose it, it is only a simple fix to restore your website and system. Obviously, for some organisations, there will be a need for continuous backups to take place. If you are an ecommerce site that is continuously taking orders from customers, then it is essential that you do not lose vital sales information.
Thanks to developments in technology, backing up data can now be automated, making it a much simpler process. eUKhost’s backup service provides a whole range of benefits including; continuous backup, high speed backup windows and file restoration, low server load, multipoint replication and industrial strength storage. As a result, if you system does go down, putting it back online can be achieved rapidly, keeping you trading and protecting your reputation.
Preventing data loss
You can help prevent data loss from threats like malware, code injections and cross-site scripting attacks simply from using a service like an MTvScan. It is also possible to monitor your site for intrusion and to block those who are making attempts to break in using brute force and other techniques using a secure firewall and an Intrusion Prevention System can make your network far more secure. A key part of defending against intrusion this is to ensure that you use strong passwords and have a robust password policy in force.
Another way to protect data is to make sure that you only give access to it to those who need it. This limits the number of people who can accidentally delete or overwrite your data.
From reading this article you should now be aware that although disasters can happen both with data and hardware, there are ways to avoid some of the causes. Regardless of precautions, all businesses should have a disaster recovery plan in place that ensures that if the worst does happen you have alternative hardware and software and backed up data in place to ensure a swift return to normality.
The most effective and cost efficient way to do this is to use cloud hosting or to have a cloud disaster recovery package together with remote data backups.