What to do When the Internet Breaks

Last week, Amazon Web Services, which many companies use for their web hosting service, was down for a day. This effected many major websites such as Reddit and Imgur. It reminded me that while living life in “the cloud” can be a good thing, it is also important to have a backup plan.

Furthermore, as you read this you have probably already read many updates about The East Coast and how they are preparing for Hurricane Sandy. With many businesses (including webhosts) based out of that part of the country, it is important to remember that things might not work as smoothly as you are used to for the next few days. Today, I thought we could spend some time to take a look at what you can do when part of the internet that your agency depends on, day in and day out, breaks.

When websites went down last week, it was easy to know what was happening because of alternate methods of communication. For example, I was able to see what was going on with Reddit because I saw a tweet from them explaining the situation. I even received an email from a company apologizing for any interruption in services due to the Amazon outage.

This highlighted the importance of communication to supporters when technology malfunctions. In order to make sure that people are aware of where to go when looking for news if some thing like your website crashes, it is important to have a strong following on various social networks. We live in an age of instant gratification where the instant is getting shorter and shorter. Making sure that you have a strong community on social networks and keeping communication active on these channels is important.

An overload of communications

Don’t forget about other methods of communication as well. Sending out an email to your mailing list is not a bad idea when your website is down. Also, don’t forget that some people actually still use the telephone, so it might be beneficial depending on the severity of the outage, to update your voicemail message with updates for people who might call.

You don’t want to risk loosing a donor, volunteer or supporter to your agency due to poor communication.

Have a Back Up Plan
Putting all of your eggs in the same basket isn’t always a good idea. Only having one copy of anything isn’t a good idea either. We talked about backing up data many times on DonorDreams before, but I felt it important to bring up again. If your web server ever goes down it is possible that you might not be able to recover your site. Having a local copy can make uploading it to an new server much easier. Always make sure you have things backed up.

Plan Ahead
Outages happen. Planning for them can make them easier to deal with. Sit down with your team and discuss what happens when technology fails. This conversation should go beyond just internet related things. Talk about what happens when the power goes out, the internet service goes down, or hardware breaks. After the meeting make sure that everyone is aware of the procedures discussed during the meeting and update them as things change. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page will minimize the stress if something goes wrong.

I hope today’s post has brought to light a few situations that people might not have thought about before. I hope that after reading this post, everyone has a better idea of what to do if part of the internet that their agency depends on doesn’t work. Have you experienced a technological failure that has impacted how your organization does business? How did you deal with it? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

To all of our readers on the East Coast, stay safe out there! We’re thinking of you!



  1. Hello! I know this is sort of off-topic however I had
    to ask. Does managing a well-established website such as
    yours require a lot of work? I am brand new to operating a blog
    however I do write in my journal on a daily basis. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

    1. Yes, it can be overwhelming. My best suggestion is to embrace Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pintrest. Go there every day and promote your blog. It will help you build readership. Good luck!

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