Monday, June 16, 2008

Double-check your hosting company's infrastructure

Story from the trenches today - a few weeks ago I customised a hosted WSS site, including UI changes and a small amount of functionality.

Somehow in one of the admin pages, the hosting company had exposed the capability to delete the complete site. So when my client did accidentally make use of that "feature", he called the hosting company to request a restore of the site.

Unfortunately, the hosting company discovered that they only actually have disaster recovery backup for an entire server farm. No application-level backup in place. It would take them 5 man days to retrieve the site.

Luckily, the site had not been used yet, so no data was lost. Just means that I have to rebuild from scratch... I had presumed that a hosted site would be safe, and so made no form of local backup.

So, in the words of Carl Franklin in Mondays (listen if you dare!), Things I have Learnt This Week:
  • Check the recovery options offered by a hosting company
  • Make your own backups of any customisations on hosted sites
  • Write reminders for yourself of any tricky little changes to make a site work as required
  • Take lots of screenshots

The latter point is worth reviewing. In this project I had taken a few screen shots of various pages within the site as development progressed, primarily to send to the client to show current state of play. Now I am using these screen shots to help recreate the site.

On the subject of screen shots. I use either Cropper or Faststone Capture for this task. Cropper is a free .net util, whereas Capture offers some nice easy image annotation options (plus ragged edges to images if required). Thoroughly recommend them both!

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