You can work hard at establishing your website presence, often investing a base of $5K into it, just to have it disappear at the flip of a switch. It’s a website owner’s worst digital fear and it came true a couple weeks ago for GoDaddy users. A crash caused email and server interruption for up to six hours.

GoDaddy learned from this hiccup by acknowledging the need for design and management considerations. While they quickly allowed 30% discounts over the next seven days for new purchases, the move hardly correlates with the deep apology they projected in response to the outage. With over 50 million domains and 5 million website hosting accounts, business owners are disappointed with GoDaddy’s response.

Impacted small business owners were left looking unprofessional and uninformed when customers could no longer access their site, leading them to realize just how fleeting a digital presence can be. Yet even savvy business professionals aren’t always that up to speed on how the web works; most make the mistake of interpreting digital data and tangible property. The GoDaddy outage was a wake up call to all users to take greater control over their digital property and take action to protect their data. In GoDaddy’s case, no data was compromised. Still, it draws attention to the issue of data security. While hosting may have shifted like the ground underneath a business structure, unless web owners back up their data, there’s always a chance of data being lost. If that’s the case, you can almost guarantee host companies will not be willing to cough up a base of $2.5K so you can contract a web designer to get your site back up. Business owners are on their own.

To protect your web investments, it’s important to protect your data by backing up all the files. It may sound strange but it’s no different than the data you back up on your desktop. Some hosts allow you to back up files on their server for situations like this. If your site is compromised for any reason, you can reload all previous files without having to recreate them, which is especially helpful if you’re dealing with HTML. If your host doesn’t offer this or if you want to create additional security, you can go through an affordable cloud storage service like Carbonite.

An outage could happen again, no matter who you’re hosting with. Next time it could compromise your data and last for days. In a desperate situation, you can upload your backed up files under a new host. You’ll probably have to come up with a new domain since you may not be able to access the original account depending on the issue. You should also hit social media to let people know what’s going on and the cause behind it – if you have a redirected domain, now’s the time to share that too. Customers will judge you if your site is down, but they’ll be sympathetic if they understand it was beyond your control.

Many GoDaddy users also had their emails affected. Unless you’re in e-commerce, having your emails affected is more devastating than having your website compromised. Emails are a primary form of communication for many. To counter any future failures, always have 2 other email accounts ready to go under different servers. You can shoot out a quick email to your contact list to keep them in the loop and let them know how they can contact you until the problem gets sorted out.