Got a Backup Plan?
Technology is great when it works and painful when it fails. Tonight my sole Windows server developed a weird issue that ultimately led to the drive being swapped out for a new one. I've got a backup of everything on the drive, so it's a minor inconvenience at best, but there's still the downtime associated with getting everything back to normal. And the downtime came in the midst of trying to get a very cool project under way.
The best defense against having no control over technology failure is a solid backup plan. In the case of this particular server, it's not mission critical, I use it primarily for testing things and as a low traffic file server. Part of my backup plan is simply to make sure there's a second copy of everything on the server, so that I didn't have any unnecessary data loss. At home, this means burning DVD backups of your files or getting a second hard drive to copy your files over.
In the case of an online presence, the second part of the plan involves having a responsive hosting provider. I've tested several hosting providers over the years, ranging from the $10 monthly virtual server accounts to my current setup where I pay a monthly fee for my own dedicated servers at ServerBeach. After a couple of false starts with other companies, I've been quite happy with the service provided by ServerBeach. For the most part, I have no contact with them because I handle day to day server maintenance. When something goes wrong, I submit a ticket and they are on the ball immediately. At home, if you aren't a computer savvy type comfortable with swapping out your hard drive or replacing parts when things go wrong, find someone who can. Like having a mechanic you can trust to fix your car, knowing a knowledgeable computer repair person is a must.
Here are some backup and recovery resources I've covered in the past: