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If something can go wrong, it will!

Normally your website will continue to appear so long as you pay the hosting fees and registration fees (if these apply to your site). But companies can go out of business or change their way of working.
In late 2009 Yahoo closed down its Geo Cities free hosting service. There were 38 million user-built pages on it. Despite many advanced warnings that took a lot of webmasters by surprise. The moral is to prepare for the worst. Keep backup or safety copies of your website.

Backups & Safety Copies

Computer-Based Design Tools

With most website design tools you create and modify files on your own computer. When you are satisfied with them you send a copy to the host company. The world views that copy.

Your normal backup routine should make a safety copy.

Once a month email*, post a CD / memory stick or hand over at a club meeting, one more copy to a member who lives a few miles away. (In case a flood destroys your computer and backups while you are away on holiday.)

Don't Work Alone

You are developing a club website, so involve other members. Our article All Aboard talks about obtaining contributions to the content.

It is good to have other people with access to the same website design tools plus the necessary username and password to get onto your website, so that they can - if necessary - update the site without you.

They can also hold backup copies of the files.

Web-based Design Tools

If you are using a web-based design tool to create your site, backing up may not be so easy. Check the control panels and the help pages to see if they have a system in place. (The Weebly one is described in Weebly-Backups.)

A fall-back is simply to visit your website and save each page in turn.

Web browsers use different "save as" options. Many now have a service to save a page as a pdf file, which retains the general look of your pages. We suggest both a plain "save" and a "save as pdf" (if you have that option).

Those saved files are a safety-net. If your web-host and/or web-based tool service closes down, it is possible to re-create your website from those files.

Re-Creating a Website

It is not necessarily easy to re-create a website from backups or saved files. If you open them using a computer-based website design tool (especially if it is not the same tool that created the website originally)  it may recreate 90% of each page properly. You will then have to use the program's tools to tidy everything up. For example the menu system of the old and new design programs may be different.

Frankly unless your website runs to hundreds of pages it is probably simpler and faster to start again from fresh. Re-create the website structure and navigation, but in another window use your browser to look at the original pages, then copy and paste text and images into the new version. Think positively ... it is also a chance to update every aspect of your website!

The plain "save" stores a file of the ".htm", ".html" or ".xml" type. This is a basic web page.
  • If you ask your browser to look at such a file it should look like your usual web page.
  • If you use Windows Explorer or Mac Finder to point to the file, then right-click and choose to open it in "Notepad" or "TextEdit" you will see a lot of gobbledegook and among it the words you normally read on that page.

The other stuff is the code your web browser uses in order to display the words properly. Special characters like pound signs and ampersands often appear as strange codes. But that "other stuff" often calls on even more instructions …

Go back to Explorer/Finder and you may also find a folder bearing the same name as the web page. Inside the folder will be the additional instructions and any pictures on your page. There will be with extensions like "xxx.js" or "xxx.css" alongside the more familiar picture types of "xxx.jpg", "xxx.jpeg", "xxx.gif" or "xxx.png".

(And you thought your browser had a simple task to perform when it opens a page!)

File Extensions

Every computer file name has two parts "xxx.yyy" where "xxx" is the name you normally see and yyy is the bit that may be hidden. It is called the file extension.

yyy is a set of letters which define the type of file and help computers link appropriate programs to them. Many computers do not  normally show file extensions. To change that:

  • Windows Explorer > open any folder then from the Tools menu >Folder Options > View tab > untick the "Hide extensions for known file types" check box.
  • Windows 7 open any folder, then from the Organize menu > Folder and search options" > View tab > untick the "Hide extensions for known file types" check box.
  • Mac OSX open the Finder menu > Preferences > Advanced > tick the "Show all file extensions" check box.
  1. xxx.htm, xxx.html, aaa.xml are pages with text and web code
  2. xxx.jpg, xxx.jpeg, xxx.gif, xxx.png are pictures
    There are other types of picture file but they are not compressed enough to be useful on websites.
  3. xxx.css, xxx.js are instructions telling web browsers how to present pages.

* Zip Up Your Backup

If you are going to email your safety copies it is often helpful to "zip them up" - that is to pack them all into one, small compressed file.

This is faster to send as an email attachment and reduces the risk of being too big for the mail system or your colleague's inbox. Most websites are surprisingly small as zipped files unless you are hosting your own videos, which are huge files ... that is why we recommend embedding videos that are stored on specialist video host websites.

A zip file is a way of combining many separate computer files into one, highly compressed file. Once saved on your computer the file can be unzipped (opened) using many tools for the purpose.

Most Windows computers will have the WinZip program, most Apples have a similar program called Stuffit.

You can download those - or other programs that do the same job -  if your machine does not have them. Just type "zip files" into your search engine to find them.

At the receiving end your colleague may see a slightly scary message like the one on the right. Don't worry about it.

He or she should choose to Save the file and will be shown the usual dialog box displaying the folders on their computer. They choose where to save  it.

Always ask your anti-virus program to scan any file you download to be sure it is safe.

They should then go to the saved file and make sure they can open it. There will be several folders and files in the zipped file - some with the name of your web pages like "How to Find Us" and so on.

If the worst happens you can use these files to reconstruct the website in another place, if necessary using other tools.

Screen grab of a zip file download notice.
Left pointing arrow. Health Check part 1

Website Makeover Guides - Introduction

What Should the Content Be? | Navigation | Planning Navigation | Anchors & Links | Words | Getting Pictures | Getting & Using Pictures
Processing Pictures | Video | Presentation Pictures | Colours | Layout Principles | Layout Schemes | Fonts | What is SEO?
Search Engine Factors | Check Your Search Ranking | Stay Legal | Website Health Check | Website No Goes more to come ...

A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Club Website with Weebly

Don't Panic! | Signing up to Weebly | Making your first (elegant) page | Adding more pages and navigation
Adding pictures and words | Creating a complex Coming Soon Page | Adding Forms, Emails, Maps and Videos.

IAC Competition to find the Best Club Website 2011

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Page updated on 16 January 2011
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