When Your Web Host Goes Out of Business

If you have any reason to believe your Web host may be going out of business, these steps will help you protect your site from oblivion.

The good news is, you've got a terrific Web site for your business and you're getting tons of orders from Web customers. The bad news is, you've just learned that your Internet service provider, or ISP, (the company that hosts your Web site on its servers) was bought up by a struggling telecom company, and you're worried they might shut down, declare bankruptcy or otherwise go out of business. What do you do?

First, look at your contract with the ISP (hopefully you've kept a copy). Make sure the contract clearly states that you own all your Web site's content--the text, graphics and other "stuff" that people actually see when they look at your site. If this isn't crystal clear, there's a risk your Web site may be considered part of the ISP's bankruptcy estate and sold to a complete stranger, under terms set by the bankruptcy court, without your approval.

Second, make sure your ISP makes two "backup" copies of your Web site on a CD-ROM or Zip disk and delivers them to you so you can keep them in a safe place. If your ISP won't do this for you, that's a real red flag, and you should look for someone else right away. The backup copies should contain not only the content of your site, but copies of the software tools (for example, the specific version of HTML) that were used in creating your site where this is possible. Some tools may not be on your backup copy because the ISP licenses them from the software vendor and cannot legally provide them to you, but you need to be aware of what these products are. Without knowing exactly what tools were used to create your site, a new ISP will have to re-create your site from scratch using whatever tools they have at hand. This will not only cost you time and money, but there's no assurance your site will look or perform as it once did.

Third, go to the Network Solutions/VeriSign Web site at www.netsol.com and make sure your site's domain name (the Internet address that reads "www. .com") is registered in your name. If your domain name is registered in the ISP's name, notify them in writing that they must assign the domain name to you on Network Solutions' records as soon as possible.

Finally, make sure that all your e-mail addresses are tied to your site rather than to your ISP's site. In other words, if your Web site is www.xyz.com and your ISP's is www.ISP.com, then all your e-mail addresses should read whatever@xyz.com, not whatever@ISP.com.

When should you worry about your ISP's health? Some of the "early warning signs" of ISP disaster are:

a sudden change in service quality, as when you're told the ISP "doesn't do" something they've always done for you before;

an increase in outages, or in the time it takes to get back online after a Web failure;
a reduction in the "redundancy" of the ISP (the number of separate servers assigned by the ISP to perform a specific task, such as e-mail), which makes them more vulnerable if a single server crashes;

sudden and frequent changes in the ISP's staff ("When you call the ISP's tech support line, you should get a real person, not voicemail, and messages should not be returned by different people each time you call).

When an ISP shuts down, for whatever reason, you're in a state of crisisy. You need to find an ISP that can help you get back online quickly, without a lot of policies and forms to fill out, because each day your site is 'dark' costs you money. When people can't access your Web site, they assume you've gone out of business and they'll go somewhere else. 
When Your Web Host Goes Out of Business When Your Web Host Goes Out of Business Reviewed by Vorapankaj on 11:23 PM Rating: 5
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