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Our Website Went Down: Here’s What You Can Learn from Our Outage

Jill Van Nostran Digital Strategy Leave a Comment

Update: As of Feb. 28, 3pm ET, MissionFound.com was back online.

As I write this, the MissionFound website is down, thanks to a widespread Amazon Simple Storage Server (Amazon S3) outage. Amazon S3 is the cloud server that hosts MissionFound.com.

When I went to MissionFound.com, this is what I saw:

I first panicked, thinking I accidentally broke it.

But after investigating on Twitter, I realized it is the internet that is broken:

This got me thinking about the websites of ministries, churches and nonprofits.

What if someone mistakenly deletes, moves or wrongly edits a file in your root directory and your site disappears?

What if (like MissionFound is experiencing today), your server goes down and no one can access your website?

What if your website is hacked?

While I wait for Amazon S3—and the MissionFound website—to come back up, I created these tips for how ministries, churches, nonprofits and Christian-based businesses can protect their websites:

1. Back up your site daily. This way, if something goes seriously wrong, you can restore your website from the latest backup. If you’re making lots of changes in the root files, it’s wise to create a backup before each change.

2. Communicate about your site’s status. If your website is down, use your social channels to alert people to the fact that they won’t be able to access your site and why. Let them know you’re working on the issue and will post another update when you can.

3. Allow only experienced people to edit root files. If someone on your team doesn’t know their way around an .htaccess file (or any file within the root directory, for that matter), please call a professional and hire them to help you. I tend to feel about matters of web management that the old adage is true: you get what you pay for. If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, think about how much more expensive it could be to hire an amateur. Make sure things are done correctly.

4. Web hosts matter—choose a great web host. (Though I say this, and MissionFound’s website is down because of the host!) Nevertheless, a good host will work with you to diligently protect and restore your site and offer great customer service. Again, when it comes to web hosts, I tend to believe that you get what you pay for.

5. Keep everything updated. Make sure your website’s themes and plugins are always updated. Hackers use outdated themes and plugins to find backdoors into sites.

6. Install a security plugin. Applications like Sucuri or Wordfence offer firewalls to protect against threats and can scan for malware.

It doesn’t take much work to protect your website, and doing so before something happens can save a lot of headaches and money.

Yet, for all the protecting and backing up you do in advance, you can’t protect against everything (30 minutes after I started this post, MissionFound’s host and website were still down). Do your due diligence, and trust God for the rest.

We’re listening. Share your thoughts with us below or on Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #missionfound.

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