At the Forge - Server Migration and Disasters

Every site is different and needs an individual disaster plan. Develop your own disaster plan with some rules for recovering from catastrophic failures.

Moving to a new place is hard, and moving your server to a new location or computer also is hard. But by coming up with a good migration plan, moving incrementally and checking your work at every point with tools such as nslookup, dig, telnet and the HEAD and GET programs that come with Perl's LWP (or the curl toolkit that performs similar operations), you can have a smooth and simple migration.

With only a few changes, a migration plan also can be used as a backup plan, ensuring that your servers continue to work and are accessible even in the wake of a great disaster. You cannot plan for every potential pitfall, but if your organization depends on its Web site, it's worth investing the time and money to ensure that it remains on-line.

Reuven M. Lerner, a longtime Web/database consultant and developer, is now a first-year graduate student in the Learning Sciences program at Northwestern University. He lives with his wife and two young daughters in Chicago, Illinois. You can reach him at