Website Disaster Recovery
I got a phone call yesterday from someone who was in an interesting predicament. Their web host had a hard drive failure and lost their website, the backups were corrupt, their web developer that had created their website was no where to be found, they didn’t think they had any of the files for the site, and they needed to get the site back up as soon as possible. After a short conversation I found out that their website was not very large. Mainly a brochure style website with about 10 pages and some pdf files available for download. They also did not have a great deal of images. Only a logo and some photographs. The photographs they had the original copies of, so they could be replaced, or new ones added.
To help this organization out I talked them through how to use the Google site command and cache to help them recover their website. The process was pretty straight forward, go to Google and type in site:www.yourdomainname.com and you are given all the pages from your website that Google has indexed and cached. You can then view the source code for the page and save it to your hard drive and before you know it you can have a new copy of your website to upload again to your web host.
You can do a similar search with Yahoo Site Explorer and MSN as well. Yahoo Site Explorer is very easy to use, simply type in your url and you will be able to view all the pages that are indexed and view the cached versions. View the source and copy and paste to a new file on your computer. MSN uses the site command so the process is identical to Google.
This organization and person were lucky. They only had a static website, with only a few pages. They were able to recreate the pages from the cached versions, got a copy of their logo, pictures and pdfs from others in their organization and they should be back up on the Internet today. This would be very painful for large websites that are generated with databases and use php or other scripting. All the more reason to make sure you do regular backups of your website. Don’t rely on your host for your backups, you never know what could happen.