About A Webmaster - What You Need To Know

Automating Backups and E-mail

December 4, 2005

After evaluating your need for a content management system, you can move on to evaluate other tasks for automation. The next item on your list should be automating your backups. You should already have a disaster recovery plan for your website that dictates your backup strategy. But even the best backup strategy can fail when it requires a great deal of manual intervention. Your goal should be to reduce that human intervention as much as possible. You will have to change backup media (DVD-R, tape, etc...) from time to time but the rest of the process should be completely automated. You shouldn't have to select which files to backup, send them to your backup device or need to go to the backup system to check if the backup was successful. All of these steps can and should be automated.

At this point, you may want to consider your e-mail tasks. Does it make sense for your website to have an auto-reply e-mail sent to people when they contact you? Perhaps you have a large number of common questions to answer via e-mail. In this case creating a simple method for you to reply to those e-mails with a standard response may be sufficient. If not, perhaps a system that allows you to select one of a number of pre-written responses might make a lot of sense and save you a lot of time. Automating e-mail does have its perils. Auto-replies can seem like spam and get caught in spam filters. People also don't normally like canned responses. You may accidentally reply to a thoughtful, unique question with a canned response that doesn't help the individual who asked the question. As with all things, think it through, weigh out the pros and cons then make a decision on whether automating your e-mail services is right for you and your website.

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