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Last updated Oct 17, 2003.
By Meryl Evans
We pray disaster never strikes our homes, but we have to be realistic that no one can tell Mother Nature what to do. After 9/11, the tsunami, and the hurricane disaster that hit the South, crisis management has received more attention. The point of crisis management is to be proactive so that when disaster strikes, the backup plan takes effect and reduces the impact on businesses and their employees.
Even Web sites need a backup plan. What if your server was located in the Twin Towers? New Orleans? Florida? Create a plan by pulling a team together and documenting general requirements. Revise those requirements until an official plan is agreed upon. Implement any elements necessary to ensure the backup plan works.
What should go into a crisis management plan for Web sites? The server that houses the Web site and its data is a good place to start. Server space costs are dropping all the time. Having a mirror site in a different state would address this issue. Take care to ensure the two locations aren't both in high-risk territories such as Florida (hurricanes) and California (earthquakes).
The mirror site should get updated on a regular basis. If your server happened to get hit by floods, would you want to fall back on a server that has not been updated in a week? Or even three days?
Storing Local Files
Where are the development and testing files kept? Is there backup of the code, application, or related technology that's on personnel computers? Mother Nature isn't the only one who can attack your computer. Hard drive crashes occur even without viruses or worms. If you're a manager of a team, what if you run into an angry employee who decides to wipe out his hard drive? You think your employees are above that, but it happens. When the company dismisses an employee, the wise thing to do is to stay with the employee and watch him to avoid any sabotage.
If budget is an issue, the least you can do is copy your files to an online server. Gmail is a good place, although one GB of space may not go far with your code. The following is a list of sites offering free or low-cost online storage:
Provides discounts based on the number of months subscribed. For example, 1,000MB is $3 for one month, $8.10 for three months, $14.40 for six months, and $18 for one year. Enter the number of space needed in MB per month and the site gives you a price list.
Low-level plan costs as little as $2.25 up to $4.00 per year for 10MB to 75MB. 1,000MB is $32 per year.
Has three plan types: enhanced, economy, and workgroup. Those who subscribe for one year can get a 10 to 16 percent discount in comparison to the monthly plans. Each plan type has many storage and rates options.
Personal Edition is $9.95 per quarter, or $34.95 per year, for 50MB with other rates for more storage and discounts for annual plans. The plan has no file size limitations when uploading as long as you're within your allocated amount. It has wireless device access and public folder sharing through a Web page.
$11.40 per year for 100MB of storage. Other plans are available that have gigabytes of storage.
If you're a registered Yahoo! member, you get 30MB worth of space for free. You can buy more storage space with the auto-renewing Premium Storage plan, which allocates 50MB for $2.95 per month, $24.95 per year, or 100MB for $4.95 per month, $34.95 per year. Yahoo! Photos are separate from Briefcase, so storage is not shared.
Consider the following when shopping for online storage:
- Storage size.
- Largest size for an upload—some places have a limit on the file size that you can upload.
- Bandwidth limits. How often do you upload? The more you upload, the higher your bandwidth usage.
- File types accepted—some online storage providers may not allow certain files for upload, such as executables.
- Whether or not an account can go dormant, especially on free accounts. Yahoo! Briefcase deactivates an account when it has not been logged in for six months.
- The penalties for exceeding your storage limit.
- Auto-renewing feature.
- Ask how much time you have in keeping your files safely on a server if you change companies.
- File-sharing capabilities.
- Multiple access capabilities.
- Uploading process.
No one wants to think about the bad things that happen. Unfortunately, fires, natural disasters, and technological disasters are an all-too-common reality. A crisis management plan and backup process can prevent your company from losing too much money, if any. These plans do cost money to implement, but compare that to the cost of not having one. Sadly, we have enough recent examples to prove that disasters can hit any business.