It’s a common scenario with small organizations. Someone in the group sets up a website, then later loses interest in the organization and wanders off — and no one else has access to maintain the site. If it’s a straightforward HTML website, you can just download the content and move it to a new home, but what if it’s a blog or wiki? The best you can do may be to get a snapshot of the site, minus any data bases that control its content. Better than nothing, to be sure, but it could be a disappointment.

If you’re stuck in such a situation, there are tools such as HTTrack for downloading whole websites. That will at least give you the raw material for building a new site. But loss prevention is always better than piecemeal recovery. Many services have backup tools. For example, on WordPress you can export your site as XML. It may take a little work to move that to anything but another WordPress site, but you have all the material. The site maintainer for your organization should do regular backups or exports if that’s an available option. Don’t say you’re afraid they’ll walk out on you, of course; just say “in case you get sick” or whatever the best excuse is for your cultural group.

If the service allows more than one administrator, take advantage of that opportunity. Oh, the two admins shouldn’t be a married couple. Better yet, have the site administered by a group-owned account, with the password securely stored in more than one place. Accounts are usually tied to email addresses, so create an account such as webmeister@your_name_here.org and register the site with that address.

Sometimes people donate their own server space. This can be an attractive offer, since it costs nothing and makes you completely independent of any business that might vanish, change its terms of service, or arbitrarily cancel your account. But people can vanish too. (I’m speaking as someone who’s had two friends die in the past two months.) Weigh the risks, and keep a backup that will stay available.

Suggestions: Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Whatever approach your organization takes, make sure it isn’t critically dependent on one person.