The Virtual Egg Basket: Don’t put your ‘eggs’ in one basket.

There’s common wisdom that you should put all your eggs in one basket, then watch over it like a hawk. But if like me, you manage a number of domains, customer sites, and blogs, this is somewhat disastrous if your primary host does go down. Fact is even if a hosting company promises you that you will have 99.9% uptime in any 12 month period, that still means you will have over 8.76 hours downtime in any year.

So, if you are going to manage any more than a couple of sites, split your eggs between baskets to ensure that WHEN one of your sites/accounts goes down, you can still be productive on the OTHER sites until service returns. This is what I’m doing at the moment to keep sites up and running.

Keep your domains and hosting SEPARATE

Domains are registered at NameCheap. If one host turns out to be really hopeless, as long as I can retrieve the most recent data, I can be up and running on another host within 24-48 hours as long as it takes the DNS to resolve properly. Recently, it’s been within 12 hours for some changes.

Separate Crucial Sites

Customer sites are generally hosted on their own accounts, separate from my blogs, and separate from each other. With domains registered elsewhere, it makes switching sites a breeze. Also, it largely protects sites from mistakes made by their owners having an effect on other unrelated sites.

Keep redundant back ups

My own blogs are generally hosted on one personal server, but the biggest have their own space on another server as well. Smaller blogs, though, share my VPS solution. Unfortunately, this means if my server goes down, most of my blogs are inaccessible. Since most repairs are quick, and data is generally unavailable during outages, moving the domains at that time is impossible.

However, if you have a daily backup of your blog, including the database and the files, you should be able to get up and running quickly on another hosting company. I don’t have a copy of the latter stuff. More fool me.

Redundancy: An Expensive Option

For my most important blogs, I’m looking at creating some form of redundancy so that I can switch and keep things up. But for most small blogs, this is quite expensive to achieve. It’s called Failover Web Hosting where your site is accessible from a number of IPs should the original site fail. This would work well with HTML based sites, but dynamic sites which lots of commenting and posting would have issues with keeping the data synchronized properly.

I’ve been using BlueHost, BlueFur, Hostmonster and Dreamhost for hosting these past few years. Though each has had intermittent problems through that time, I found Dreamhost has been the most reliable in the past six months, while BlueFur turned into a bit of a disaster as we kept getting locked out of our account/Cpanel/Website. It got so ridiculous that we stopped using their service. I can’t particularly recommend BlueFur but you may get different mileage. Still, let me know how you plan to keep your sites running in an emergency.

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