The first few days of this month were very troubling for everyone hosting their website with BlueHost, HostGator, and HostMonster. Those 3 companies rent their equipment from a much larger company that handles the technical side of everything. One thing led to another and the entire data center facility was cut off from the internet.
Some reports say that as many as 50 million websites were affected by the outage. A lot of people were upset that their websites were down for almost a full day. Some people didn't even notice, but many who did were demanding a refund on their hosting or threatening to move to another hosting company.
Many of those complaining are paying $5.95 per month for their website hosting.
Let's just say, for a moment, that you are one of those people whose entire business relies on your website to be operational 24/7. If you rely on sales and service through your website every single day then you should be setting up a redundant website for yourself. It is a little technical, and tricky, but if you are out of business without your site then it might be worth is.
If you absolutely, positively can't live without your website then here's you could implement redundancy...
Start with finding 2 web hosting companies that do not use the same data center. My best suggestion is to find 2 companies that are not geography near each other. You might have to call their presales team to find out where they are actually located. You will want to pay for a private server or a virtual private server (VPS) from each company. The VPS' are a really good solution for most businesses.
Step 2 requires you to set up redundant DNS servers. Computers understand numbers and people understand words. The translation between numbers and words is handled by a "domain name system." My specific strategy is to use the DNS services from your registrar and then pay 2 more companies for extra DNS services. You'd want to have at least 4 DNS servers managing your website.
Step 3 is to set up your website on both web servers, but use one as the primary server and the other as the backup. For example you could have http://www.perosijewelers.com and http://backup.perosijewelers.com. Once both websites are up and running and tested you should deactivate your backup website so Google won't find duplicate content."
The last step is to set up a nightly website backup that will copy your entire site from the primary server over to the backup. You could do this with a massive zip file and FTP it over to the other server. All those backup copies will sit on the other server until they are needed.
Every once in a while you should have your programmer unzip the latest copy of the website and turn the backup website on, just as a test. You should do this at least 2 times per year.
On the inevitable day that your primary website is knocked offline it should take very little time for your programmer to get the backup server running again. Your programmer will need to unzip the backup copy from the night before, turn the website on, and change the DNS settings. The restore process should take less than 30 minutes regardless what type of website you have.
Like all disaster recovery scenarios, this process would have to be rehearsed.
What would this cost? According to today's prices you would pay about $40 per month for each VPS. You can find managed DNS services for about $15 per month. That's $110 plus the cost of a programmer to handle the technical aspects and be on call during outages.
Think of it this way, if you run an e-commerce business then that $110 per month is the rent you need to pay to stay in business while 49,999,999 other people are yelling that their website is down.
When your website is your only source of income you should think strategically and plan for outages, and how to protect yourself from those failures.