What To Do Before (And If) Disaster Strikes


Problems can easily happen to even the most experienced individual. Having a good recovery plan can go a very long way in preventing or limiting the damage caused when an issue comes up.

In my own experience I’ve come across problems that I would never have realized could be an issue, until it happened. Yet, these same problems are the same that will come up time and time again.

  • Clients accidentally losing the work.
  • Clients accidentally deleting the work.
  • Losing the original layered files.
  • Having important files overwritten.
  • Dealing with virus and other attacks.

The point is; at some point something will happen. Having a plan for almost any scenario, especially the unlikely can have a large impact on the job and you as well

When, not if, disaster strikes, you don’t want to be caught with no options. Having both a backup plan, and disaster mitigation plan can save not only your sanity, but your job as well. Disaster may not be on your end, it could as easily be on a client’s, but even so- having a plan can save (and improve) a lot more than ‘just a headache’.

Developing a plan will make your life (and planning) far smoother than simply hoping for the best.

The plan above can be used during the design process itself, or to develop a ‘worst case scenario’ plan.

In business, especially a freelancing business, finding a way to cope with the absolute worst can help you perform at your best. While your own disaster plan may differ vastly from someone else’, below  are some general ideas to use to help get started on your plan of action.


  • Back up often while working on the project. Call things sequential names so you can revert back (this can also save some time when resolving a client’s issue).
  • Keep backups on a separate drive when possible.
  • For website; back up everything. Naturally you will backup the code itself, but remember to also backup your databases and anything else. Usually once a week is good for the average website. You may loose some information, but loosing a week’s worth is still vastly better than loosing all of it.


  • Install a virus scanner on your website. You can find great options for any kind of website, from html code to WordPress websites.
  • Keep everything updated. If you are using WordPress, for example, they also are fixing found vulnerabilities and other potential problems (of course, you should backup your files beforehand, especially if you are updating from an older install).
  • While it’s related to the above, keep any plugins you have updated as well.
  • Don’t install themes and plugins (or other codes) without testing them first, if you know the code- you may want to take a look at the code as well. No matter how slim chances may be, some shadier people do hide malicious code within themes and plugins.


  • Have a standby relatively ready to go. The quicker you can get things back up, the better you will be in the end.
  • Have a temp index page under your root, explaining your website maintenance.
  • MySQL may be harder to restore, putting it back small pieces at a time may help (yes, I have had to do this in the past).


Virus, Malware, and Security

There are a few tools online to help with virus scanning, malicious codes, and other potential problems. Getting rid of them more often than not is up to you however. Depending on what you are using, one of the below may be better suited.

  • SecTools: Website features a lot of options for web  vulnerability scanners.
  • WP Security Scan: A WordPress vulnerability scanner. This plugin will help you pinpoint what needs to be done to avoid, or minimize your risk from some of the malicious attacks out there.
  • Securi: A website dedicated to web security. They offer a lot of tools, advice, and other pieces that can save you a lot of time and frustration.

Backups & Testing:

  • FileZilla Client: FileZilla is a fantastic open source FTP client.
  • You can also use your host’s MySQL tool (the actual database area) to download a backup. FileZilla cannot download that.
  • IIS: You can use Microsoft’s IIS tool to test, run, and backup (after downloading) your websites. To be very simple, it’s a personal server that you can use to set up and test before launching. You can also download MySQL, PHP, etc and many other addons (WordPress, Joomla, and a lot more).

If you have a favorite tool that you use to prevent or plan for disasters feel free to comment about it below.