Marion Harrington Clarinet

Do You Have a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Musical Web Site or Blog?

All jobs have a tedious side including being a freelance musician.

Crafting your own career on your own terms demands that you accept responsibility for everything. If you think you can spend the entire day apart from performances playing your instrument, you're sadly mistaken.

Attending to the business side of being a musician on a regular basis is essential if you're going to build a sustainable living.

One of the tasks I've shied away from until recently has been anything to do with tech i.e., getting my head round the back-end of web-sites, learning more about how they work and being in a position to put things right when they go wrong.

If you're working on a tight budget, having to out-source fixing every small glitch really hits your profitability. I know – it's happened to me.

Having my main web site hacked back in April has been distressing, stressful and expensive. Nearly two months offline has had a catastrophic effect on my income streams and I want to make sure that you don't end up living through the same experience.

Read on to find out what happened to me and how you can save yourself the grief I've been through.

Hacked!

Being somebody who's direct, speaks her mind and isn't afraid to defend her point of view when challenging the status quo, I can't say that I was that surprised when I got hit but even so, the experience came as a bit of a shock in April especially when I thought I had already put in place an adequate disaster recovery plan.

As well as all the photos and graphics going AWOL, I was left with having to reformat and tidy up every blog post I'd written since 2009.

The fact that the attack was clearly malicious and obviously designed to sideline me for some time was made worse by the fact I have a strong suspicion who was behind it. All completely futile anyway because even this nightmare wont shut me up or stop me from being myself!

I thought I was prepared for such a hacking eventuality but it's clear that my hitherto lack-a-daisical attitude towards keeping plug-ins up to date, getting round to implementing security monitoring and disciplining myself to take regular back-ups have been the main reasons why it's taken so long to get the site re-published.

Despite the complete incompetence and unhelpful attitude of my old hosting company, in the end, web site security comes down to us. If things go wrong and there are no firm plans to deal with such an eventuality in place, we only have ourselves to blame.

Take Care Which Hosting Company You Choose

Biggest doesn't necessarily mean better. I loyally used the same hosting company for years, assuring myself I had the best out there all the while vaguely thinking that there must be a cheaper and more user friendly alternative. I never took any action until it was too late and my patience had snapped.

It's not until the proverbial hits the fan – which first happened at the back end of 2011 – that you find out whether your chosen host is worth their annual fee. Mine certainly was not so when push came to shove, I voted with my purse.

While the site was off-line, I took the opportunity to change from Network Solutions to Bluehost.

Apart from being cheaper per year to maintain, for a non-tech person like me, the user interface or CPanel is like a breath of fresh air.

In addition, from the feedback I've had from the pros who I engaged to fiddle around behind the scenes, they seem to work with Bluehost far more frequently than all the rest. The benefit for you is that the the job gets done quicker and the consequent fee is smaller.

Seriously Consider A Security Monitoring Company

Once I discovered that I couldn't even get into my WordPress dashboard to find out what was throwing out a two line fatal error message to anybody who happened to tap my web site address into their browser, I panicked.

Rattling off a frantic email to a close contact of mine, I was recommended Sucuri as very time efficient and good value for money.

I wasn't disappointed! They were quick and seemed to have endless patience with somebody who was effectively climbing the walls.

Apart from cleaning out the malware, for $90 I'm now covered for a full 12 months which gives me enormous peace of mind.

Re-building the entire site and restoring graphics however, has been another matter!

Keep Your Plug-ins Up to Date and Take a Cloud or Hard Copy Back-Ups After Every Change

Plug-ins

It's a fact that not keeping plug-ins current increases the vulnerability of your site.

Although very useful in improving functionality, personally I find plug-ins a complete pain in the bottom. In fact, dare I admit it, I'm actually quite scared of them – lol!

The reality is that all you need to do is take a little care with compatibility when you update them.

Here's a good example: I recently updated WordPress to version Green 3.4. Before I did that I went through all my plug-ins to check whether or not they too were up to date and if they would work with the new WordPress.

The ones that didn't, were left as they were and I'm currently waiting for expert advice.

Back-Ups

I got caught out because I failed to take the time to find out exactly how to do this.

Back-up Buddy is the most widely suggested. It's a WordPress premium application but can work out pretty pricey depending on how many sites you manage.

Take-away Tips

  • As an independent artist, developing your tech skills should be on a par with your practice sessions.
  • If you have the energy and inclination, check out Start-Up Training School where you can learn all the skills you need to stay in control of your web site.
  • If your schedule dictates that all this really is too much for you to do on your own, you'll be glad to know that Rosebrook Classical offers a very comprehensive monthly web master package.

*Huge thanks to both Lea at STS and David at RbC for the generosity of their time and resources in helping me get this site re-published*

  • Choose your hosting company carefully – research carefully and be guided by recommendation
  • Think seriously about buying a year's insurance for a third party security company to monitor your web site 24/7
  • Keep your plug-ins up to date but take care with compatibility issues
  • Every time you make a change or add a blog post, take a back-up for easy restoration should the worst happen
  • Change your passwords regularly and never use the same one for different sites.

Next post: For Clarinettists Only – The Great Reed Experiment