This is one of those blogposts that you don't need until you need it, and when you do need it, you really need it, and by then it's often too late. So when you've finished reading this, consider taking some proactive preventative action. You've been warned.
Disasters happen: Earthquakes, tornados, global pandemics. As radio broadcasters, we all know the feeling that we get in the pit of our stomachs when we get the call: “The transmitter's down.”
I get that same feeling when I receive this call: “The website is down.”
There are any number of reasons a website can go down, from WordPress plugin conflicts to an attack by hackers. The best way to prepare for such an emergency is to regularly — ideally, daily — make backups of your website. Given the frequency, it's easiest to find an automated solution to this problem, rather than relying on manual backups.
Backing Up with WordPress Plugins
If your radio station's website is built in WordPress, one option is to purchase a plugin that will automatically make backups, such as UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, or VaultPress. These plugins typically allow you to set up a backup schedule, determine what needs to be backed up, and select a destination for the backup files.
What does need to be backed up? If you're using WordPress, two things: the website's database, which is where all of your posts and pages and settings live, and your actual files, including your plugins, images, and themes. It's typical to backup the database frequently and do a full backup of the files less often.
Be sure to pick a destination for the backup that won't be affected by whatever caused your website to go down in the first place. For example, you'll want one backup in the cloud, not on a hard drive at the station, in case the reason your site is down is because your radio station burned to the ground in a fire.
Website Host Backup Services
As an alternative to using a WordPress plugin, many website hosting companies will make regular backups as part of your plan. For example, here at Jacobs Media, we host our site with WP Engine, which takes daily backups and makes it easy to restore our site to a previous version if something goes wrong.
If you're performing an activity that could take down your website, it's always a good idea to take a backup first. For example, any time we update our WordPress plugins, we backup the site first in case the updated plugins conflict with one another in a way that wreaks havoc.
When making major upgrades such as these, it's a best practice to use a “staging site.” A staging site is basically a practice space with a copy of your website where you can make your updates without disrupting your live site, check to make sure that those changes don't break anything, and then — once you're sure it's safe — push them live. Some hosting companies, such as WP Engine, make it easy to copy the current website to the staging site and then push the changes live, but it's also possible to do this manually.
Does your radio station have a plan
if when the website goes down? Is it making backups? Who knows how to restore those backups quickly if needed? Answer these questions now — before you have a problem.