The lesson for the day is BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP! And did I mention backup?
Seriously, as soon as you’re done reading this scintillating bit of Pullitzer-worthy writing, walk your mouse over to your own website or blog, and BACK IT UP!
I learned the hard way: Ketubahworks.com, the website from which I derive my livelihood, was completely shut down for close to a month due to a malware attack (no, nothing personal against me, just some hacker somewhere, out to wreak general havoc, and I got lucky – ha!)
On the one hand, this is historically a slow time of year for my mostly-wedding-related business, so it probably could have been worse, but on the other hand, during the slowest time of the year is when I can use all the sales I can get! So having NO WEBSITE was a real problem, to say the least.
Although I’m on a Mac (which I had thought meant I was immune to viruses, etc.), I learned in my desperate attempts to get my site back up again that 99% of all website hacks are actually Trojan horses or similar code that finds its way onto the site’s server via the owner or admin’s own computer.
So, being just a tad interested in having my livelihood back TO STAY (yes, Virginia, that is sarcasm), I invested in three different virus/spyware protection programs: MacScan, Avast! and VirusBarrier X5 by Intego. Avast!, though it received excellent reviews from what I could find online, made my system horribly boggy. Basically unusable, as a matter of fact. This was a problem. A big problem. If I’m not able to use my computer I can’t make a living. On the other hand, it found, and eliminated, 64 (sixty-four!) viruses on my system!
VirusBarrier X5 is a dream – it runs in the background, checking every file as it’s opened or closed, and has no effect on my system that I can detect. Great! But… it declared my system free of viruses before Avast! found the veritable snakepit of viruses it did. Not good!
That “all clear” report did not give me a lot of confidence in the software, but by then it was bought and paid for. (And twelve days later I received notice that the new version, VirusBarrier X6, is now available, and after already paying a hundred bucks for InternetSecurity Barrier (a bundled version of the software which also includes NetBarrier 5 and a backup software that I haven’t managed to try yet), I’m now required to pay another $50 to get the upgrade. Can you say “the universe is laughing at you”?)
Sigh… The problem is, the software that found the viruses is impossible to run while I’m using the computer, and extremely opaque and non-intuitive to boot. (When it finds a virus, you have to select it from a list of files and isolate it in the Virus Chest, but sometimes the option to do this is greyed out, and then what am I supposed to do??!!) The software that is a breeze to use and makes sense (obviously designed by Mac folk!) is not reliable!
So I’ve come up with a protocol: I run VirusBarrier X5 whenever I’m working on my computer, and when I’m ready to shut down for the day, instead of actually shutting down I quit VirusBarrier X5 and open Avast!, which I set to scan my system while I sleep. In the morning it’s invariably not through scanning my entire system, but it’s gotten through my hard disk and the only files it hasn’t made it through are Time Machine backups, which are copies of whatever’s on the hard disk, so I think I’m safe (though as soon as I type this no doubt some techie will tell me why I’m wrong….) If there are any new viruses (which there haven’t been since the snake pit was cleaned out weeks ago), I deal with them, then reboot my machine and fire up VirusBarrier X5 again.
Whew! Kind of a lot of trouble, but NOTHING compared to the trouble of having no website!
Meanwhile, I learned the hard way that another essential protocol is to BACK UP EVERYTHING! Thankfully, I had a backup of Ketubahworks, which I finally got re-installed yesterday. (I kept expecting that the sister site I’ve been working on would be done soon, so I could forward Ketubahworks to it, but that project keeps dragging on.. I seriously need a new webmaster.. Anyone know of any good webmasters?) Unfortunately, the backup was a few months old, so hours and hours and HOURS of work were lost – poof! – just like that.
And then, in the process of restoring the Ketubahworks backup, somehow KetubahDiva, my blog, this blog, disappeared! Again, I did have a backup, but it was about a month old, and several posts were lost – poof! – just like that.
In fact, this post that I’m tapping away at right now is a redo of another post that I wrote last night, relating my tale of woe and lessons learned. But that post got lost – poof! – when my webmaster somehow reinstalled the original blog, and in the process lost the replacement/backup blog that I’d installed.
All that brilliant writing, gone.. (And believe me, it was probably the most brilliant writing I’ve ever done. Really. Award-winning material.)
Anyway, the point of all this rambling is this: get yourself some good virus/spyware protection, and establish a backup protocol, and USE IT! Seriously. It really, really, REALLY sucks to lose all your hard work, and if you’ve got a backup you can be up and running again with a helluva lot less trauma than if you have no backup.
In fact, I’m off to make yet another backup of my sites.