Recently, an Ottawa based ISP (Travel-Net Communications) pulled the plug on its customers without warning, leaving thousands of customers suddenly without access to their emails or their website. I imagine the owners of Travel-Net made a very tough decision, but it is now extremely tough for their numerous customers who are left without a website or email with no one they can call to find out what’s going on.
If you’re a business owner and are suffering from the misfortune of having your web hosting or email provider go out of business, I truly feel for you. If you find yourself in this unfortunate predicament, this guide is for you.
In this article, you’ll find step by step instructions on what to do and when to do it, so you can get back up and running as soon as possible.
How You Can Get Your Website and Email Back Online ASAP
Step 1: Get Domain Name Access
This is the most important thing to do first.
Your domain is your identity on the internet and your entire web presence – from your website to your email – go through it.
Domain names are managed by registrars, such as GoDaddy and Network Solutions. To find who that is, visit this website: https://onewhois.securenow.com/ and type in your domain name (without the http://www part) eg: yourdomain.com vs www.yourdomain.com.
Once you find out who your registrar is, you will need to find the login access for this. If you haven’t recorded it, you can try searching your email (assuming you downloaded it) or contacting the Registrar. Registrars understand that these things happen so be expected to provide some sort of legal proof like an ID or business licence that you are the rightful owner of your domain.
Step 2: Find a New Hosting and Email Provider
The next steps will depend on how complicated your website is and what technology it needs to run. Every website is different and may have different needs.
I won’t go into too many details here, but you probably want to choose one which provides you back-ups of your website to provide you peace of mind.
Some tips on finding a good provider:
- You get what you pay for – the cheapest option is often the worst option
- Read reviews and talk to friends and associates about who provides their services
- Ensure your hosting provider provides acceptable backup solutions in case of catastrophe (such as the one you’re facing now)
Step 3: Create a Landing Page
Once you have chosen a new provider, it is critical you set up a basic landing page so that your customers know you have not gone out of business and are currently facing technical difficulties and that your new website will be coming soon.
Because the landing page is temporary, I recommend something basic, clear, and concise.
It is very important that your landing page should include clear contact information – such as a contact form or telephone number or alternate email address so people know how to reach you.
Step 3b: Set up Emails
While you are setting up the landing page, you should set up all of your email addresses on the new provider to minimize any loss of emails.
If possible, your email service should be served off of a separate server/machine than your website – by choosing a host that separates these services, an email outage will be less likely to affect a website outage and vice-versa.
I also recommend you and your staff get into the habit of backing up/downloading emails on a weekly basis versus solely relying on web based emails. As I imagine many of your team lost some very important information when your old provider went out of business.
Step 4: Try to Locate Your Old Site
This is the trickiest step of all and I left it to the end, as everyone’s situation will vary. If you are lucky enough to have a real backup of your website, you can simply restore the backup in a matter of hours (sometimes minutes).
If you don’t have a backup and you have a fairly simple website, you may be able to scrape a copy of your website from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (http://web.archive.org/). If you can find a copy of your site on the Internet Archive, you will need to get a developer to help you download a copy of your website and reupload it.
If you need to start from scratch, there are options like WordPress, which has pre-built themes that can help you fast-track the process of getting back online. Or you can reach out to a web development company like EnvisionUP to help out.
Once your new site and emails are operational, some key important things you need to make sure are happening going forward:
- You have a backup of your website that is never more than 2 weeks old. Most hosting providers provide automated backup solutions if you can’t or do not have the time to download backups of your website regularly.
- You have access to your domain name’s login info OR at least the ability to get access whenever you want. Make sure the admin email that controls access to the account is an external email (not the same as the domain).
- You are tracking data within Google Analytics or similar statistics service.
- You are working with a provider that is clearly active and responsive. Usually slow, unresponsive service can be a sign that things are going the wrong way.
If you are in unfortunate circumstances, talk to one of our Certified Google experts and we may be able to help!