Backups, Monitoring, and Alerts for Your SCUBA Business

Once again, I’ll be covering the 2013 DEMA Show in Orlando, Florida for I have my coveted media badge which means most booth staff will do their best to ignore me. If you’ll be attending and want to say hi, either contact me or just leave a comment below and we can make arrangements, I enjoy finally getting to meet people in real life that I’ve only met on the cattle call dive boat known as social media.

You can also find me in seminars or on the show floor, I’m usually the one guy carrying a laptop, iPad, and iPhone (not just carrying, constantly out) everywhere, looking exhausted.

DEMA Show ≠ Vacation

A friend of mine commented on how lucky I am to get an Orlando vacation in to help break up the overcast and rainy winters I endure. I would have laughed if that hadn’t been so painful.

The first sessions start at 8:30 AM and go until almost 5 PM. I attend mostly marketing related sessions, but also various sessions from the certification agencies so I can see where the industry is headed so I can better do my job. When I find a break in sessions, I go walk the floor. It’s usually not until the end of the second day that I’ve seen the entire exhibit floor, then I plan where I want to go back to get some intensive time.

Unfortunately, my normal daily responsibilities don’t stop just because I’m at a trade show. So I usually go back to my room around 5, catch up with emails and work social media until 6 or 7, then there’s usually some industry event where I can actually go meet with people. For someone in marketing, this is where much of the work actually gets done. I typically slip out around 9, finally grab some dinner, then work until midnight or 1.

Now that I’m actually hitting the gym regularly, I may even try to work in some time for that, but I’m not making any promises.

Inevitably, there will be some things that don’t get done, so after the DEMA Show is over, I spend much of the next week playing catch-up. Luckily this year, there’s a whole extra week before Thanksgiving. As if staying on top of social media during the holiday season wasn’t fast-paced enough, this year I get to deal with all of the fun social media and search landscape changes I mentioned last time.

No complaints though, I love the fast-paced times even though I don’t get out much for these next two months.

Backups, Monitoring, and Alerts

It seems like ever since I can remember, our host for my work sites keeps going down. They always blame it on me, I lie to them about how I’ve done all their suggestions, they turn it back on. I work on optimizing code and plugins, they take it back down, we repeat the process.

I had a glimmer of hope that we were going to move the sites to our work server, but that’s not in the cards now. Instead I get to do massive clean up of various site structure elements that were in place before I showed up because we’re trying a different solution instead of  moving the site. I’m not looking forward to troubleshooting the redirection of 2,000 some odd blog posts, their associated links, and uploaded media.

To add to this ongoing struggle, WordPress and all the various plugins I run don’t stop updating. For some reason, the last three WordPress updates haven’t gone as swimmingly as the last few years worth of updates. So I get to roll back, troubleshoot, try again, try again again. I’m not sure how trusting I am of WordPress 3.7’s option to automatically do updates.

Which brings me to the topic of backing things up.

If you have a WordPress site and are just hoping that your host is keeping your site backed up, don’t bet on it. You need your own backup solution because their backup may be a week old and updating your version of WordPress could lose a weeks worth of content. I personally use and recommend BackWPup. I use the Pro version because I like differential backups. Basically, only new/changed files are backed up, so that saves me on my Amazon S3 storage and transfer costs.

And then there’s monitoring. Due to our host constantly taking my work sites down and their support email system only sending me notifications about 25% of the time, I need to know before they tell me. Pingdom is a popular choice, but I prefer Uptime Robot because they seem to catch about 25% more outages than Pingdom and they’re significantly faster.

If you want a site with a ton of preloaded extras like premium themes and plugins, a great uptime, and BackWPup-based backups, my friends at Pro Scuba Sites have a couple of low-cost DIY options to help you get started. This site is hosted on their servers and I’ve been very happy.

Another idea for monitoring came in very handy today. I use Zapier for a variety of purposes, one of which sends me an instant message every time there’s a post to Facebook Pages I monitor. Typically I ignore these since I get iOS and Hootsuite notifications any time a customer posts on our Page or sends us a message.

But today it came in handy because of a post “we” made. Now I put the we in sarcastic quotation marks because we didn’t make this post. A well-known service I had tried and abandoned that allows for posting to Facebook had been hacked and Pages were posting spam messages. We were one of them. Luckily, I got the IM, knew something was awry, deleted the offending post, and disconnected the service that had been hacked.

On a Page where a post usually has around 1,000 views within the first couple of minutes, I had the post deleted before that number got to double-digits. Oh yeah, on my day off.

I know Zapier is designed for automation, but I absolutely love it for alerts. And never suggest we play the game where the first person at dinner who touches their phone buys, I refuse to play because it’s situations like this that prove how necessary it is to be constantly connected.

Backup your website, backup your computer, monitor your web site, and get notifications for anything that’s important to you. It’s better to know about problems quickly and have a strategy in place to deal with them than it is to be caught flat footed and scrambling for solutions. See you at the DEMA Show!

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