Data centers have struggled to cope with natural disasters. Hurricane Sandy brought forth enterprising stories of efforts not in the disaster management plan. Do you know how your WordPress site is affected in a natural disaster and how your data center is affected by it?

You may wonder why we may be talking about an issue which may not affect your hosting service or your business as often as other hosting issues. However, not only is the damage to infrastructure, and power supply real, it may also be more severe than other minor glitches which may occur operationally. This means more downtime and more losses.

 

Natural disasters cause data centers much damage and downtime.

Natural disasters cause data centers much damage and downtime.

Research reveals that data centers are still affected by natural disasters with many not operating in conditions which could continue operations after a natural disaster. This means that you if your WordPress hosting provider’s infrastructure is compromised then your sites are too. If you backup with your hosting provider then you may just have lost all your data.

Natural Disasters

You know of the damage Hurricane Sandy wreaked once it reached land. It hit Manhattan, a region densely populated with data centers; and many of them were forced to rely on generators and fuel deliveries. However, others had to allow their data centers to shut down after the power backup was exhausted.

How One Data Center Avoided Power Outage during Hurricane Sandy

Peer1, had its center in Manhattan when Hurricane Sandy hit. However, reportedly, they could not rely only fuel deliveries to help them because their fuel pumps located in the basement were taken out when when water entered them. This made the fuel in their fuel tank inaccessible. Peer1 staff, volunteers and employees reportedly carried small quantities of fuel by hand, up 18 flights of stairs to keep a fuel tank on the floor filled. This meant that an entire night and morning for tiring work to keep the center up and running through the storm. Peer1 survived the storm with some improvised initiatives which were not part of their disaster recovery plan. Their action also meant that their clients did not have to experience outage.

However, this is not a case with all data centers. Hurricane Sandy took down another data center- DataGram, and websites like Gawker, Gizmodo, The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed experienced downtimes.

While the staff of Peer1 took extraordinary measures and were able to think on their feet, you cannot count on such measures to work every time. During Hurricane Sandy some data centers were submerged with the IT equipment severely damaged. Others, like in the Peer1 example protected their servers but were affected due to power supply being cut off. Natural disasters have a domino effect and can adversely impact you data center even though the infrastructure of the data center itself may not be directly harmed.

When data centers began reporting on the the damage caused by the floods some users were naturally disappointed about the level of preparation. If facilities are not designed to operate during floods or earthquakes then there is not a lot you can do in a couple of days or even a week to change that; especially when the intensity is dire.

Accidents

However, sometime even planning is not always helpful. Even if a data center is built with the natural elements in mind, it may not cover against accidents. No, we are not talking about human errors when people reboot or spill drinks or mix up cable connections; but more along the lines of a welding accident which led to an Amazon data center; which was not yet in service, to catch fire. Accidents like that happen and it is not something one can prepare for, although it may have been avoidable.

Not all cases are that clear cut though. It was reported that a person driving a SUV fell unconscious behind the wheel when his blood sugar level dropped. The vehicle continued to accelerate and crashed into a wall and knocking the generator inside it. It was the building Rackspace was using to house power generators for their data center. The unexpected power failure threw a spanner in the works for both Rackspace and their clients. As a result of the accident some users experienced hours of downtime. Rackspace ended up paying US $3.5 million in refunds, reportedly.

What This Teaches Us About WordPress Backups?

One client of Rackspace, following the incident, was quoted as saying, “We’ll work hard to further diversify our systems”. Perhaps this is the best lesson to take away from not only the above story but this article. A disaster recovery plan after all is meant for such circumstances. For all the above mentioned reasons, you’ll need to have a disaster recovery plan which is precisely that. A viable, rehearsed, and reliable plan which can recover your data in the case of a disaster that renders your hosting provider completely inaccessible. Having an effective and independent WordPress backup service like BlogVault protecting your data would be a worry-free solution.

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