Why I’m not freaking out about Aweber going down

Aweber.com is down right now, apparently because of a DDOS attack.

This can have a huge impact on your online business if you use them for your email marketing. After all, if you’re running SEO, social media and PPC campaigns to your landing pages right now, you visitors will not be able to opt-in.

They’re hooped.

And that’s enough to make any digital marketing team cringe.

But here’s why I’m not: redundancy.

If you’ve simply set up your website to send information directly to Aweber then, my friend, you’re building on borrowed land. And that’s a mistake.

Here’s the work around, which will make sure that you never again lose an email subscriber due to an outage.

Step 1: Send the form information to a database first

Instead of sending the opt-in information of your subscribers directly to Aweber, instead send that information to a mysql database on your own server. This information is yours now, make sure you don’t lose it.

Step 2: Setup a script on your server to send the information to Aweber

The next step is to send the info to Aweber. You can set up a cron job on your server to check for new subscribers, and if they exist, send them over to Aweber.

Step 3: If sending the information fails, don’t erase the subscriber information!

Have your script check to see if the subscriber information is being received by Aweber. If it is, erase the information from your database to clean it up. If it has NOT been received (as it would be today seeing as Aweber is down) then have the script do nothing, and check again a minute later.

Here’s what this process looks like:

aweber-fix

Other things to consider

Of course, there are some thing that Aweber’s forms add to your site that you will have to build into your new system. Things such as form validation, allowing only one submission, and disabling the form for multiple consecutive submits from the same IP address (for security).

But as long as you follow some basic web form guidelines you’ll be just fine.

Bottom Line

Make sure you protect yourself! Don’t ever rely entirely on someone else’s site for your business operations. Protect your data, and your audience.

At the end of the day you can apologize for an email that gets sent out a day late, but if you’re spending cold hard cash on advertising and promotion, then you need to make sure you make the most of that traffic.

Let me know if you have questions in the comments below.

~E

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22 Responses to “Why I’m not freaking out about Aweber going down”

  1. Stephen Guise

    This is a good, smart idea. But for the majority of people, I think it’s, technically-speaking, over their heads. I’m relatively tech-savvy and even I’m like, “Err… Setup a script on your server to send the information to Aweber?? Whaa?”

    Great idea though. And congrats on avoiding this headache.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

    Reply
    • Eric

      Thanks Stephen, I totally understand that it’s a complicated subject. I don’t like to post code on my blog because it’s not a developer blog. That being said, a web developer on oDesk would be able to create this script for under $100.

      I would say that is worth much less than losing a half days worth of leads… and potentially sales 🙂

      Reply
  2. Cedric

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for the explanations. Would it be possible to me the script you use? I would like to setup such kind of solution.

    Best regards,
    Cedric

    Reply
    • Eric

      Hi Cedric,

      I don’t post snippets here on my blog, but the script would be fairly simple – and there are tons of snippets out there to help you out. Try hitting up google for these terms:

      “php add row to mysql” to find a script that will add data to the database
      “do_post_request” which will basically be the script that send the information to aweber
      “setup a cronjob” which will automate the process

      Reply
      • Cedric

        Hi Eric,

        Ok, thanks already for these information.

        So you use single opt-in to have a working solution?

        Cheers

        Reply
        • Eric

          If you send information to Aweber using either a php post or their API it will trigger a double opt-in regardless of how you do it. They do this so that you can’t automate the process of importing a list and bypass the double opt-in process.

          I personally only use DOI so it’s not a problem.

          Reply
  3. nonymouse

    Doesn’t it cost more to run the buffer database than it does to subscribe to aweber. Why not just find a service with fewer outages? It’s certainly easier then becoming a part time Mysql DBA and sysadmin.

    Reply
    • Eric

      If you’re using wordpress, then you already have a mysql database account so it doesn’t cost anything.

      If not, your hosting account probably has mysql anyways. It’s quick, cheap and relatively easy to use.

      If you set up your automated script to remove information after it’s been submitted then the database and scripts wont even use up more than a few kb of space.

      Reply
  4. Cindy

    Just searched “ddos aweber” and came across this. Glad I did! I just did a pre-launch of my site to personal connections Yesterday. Subscribers started flooding in, and then just stopped (I didn’t know aweber went down until this AM). Now I don’t know how many people may have slipped through the cracks… I have NO clue how to do what you describe, but will be investing in having this done for me asap. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Peggy Nolan

    I use gravity forms which kind of saves my butt from Aweber’s outage. While I can capture the emails for my opt-in’s, the one to subscribe to my Daily Dose is (my prospecting list) requires aweber to send the confirmation email. All my follow ups run off Aweber. Terribly disappointed that they can’t seem to get a handle on the situation.

    Reply
  6. Patrick

    Right now I am worried sick by the prospect of losing all subscribers that I have worked so hard to get. What would happen if this actually happens? Could I hold Aweber liable for the losses?

    Reply
    • Eric

      I’m sure your database of subscribers will be just fine in Aweber. Call me paranoid, but I don’t rely on any company to hold my data and make regular backups… you should too!

      Reply
  7. Jason

    If anyone finds someone to do this work around in mysql, please share their contact information. This may be product/service a lot of people could use, maybe we’re on to something for a new product launch 🙂

    Appreciate the post Eric, to bad you couldn’t share your snippet 🙂

    Reply
    • Eric

      I wish I could Jason, but there are a few variables that could result in a loss of data so it’s best to have someone who is familiar with php/mysql to do this instead of copying a snippet. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Arun Sivashankaran

    Eric-
    Thanks for putting this post together. It’s a great approach that has a lot of benefits beyond the (hopefully rare) DDOS.

    Jason (or anyone else) –

    We had a client that was hit hard by this, so we’re in the process of putting together a WordPress plugin to do this (similar to what Eric described). It’s probably not appropriate for me to just drop my contact info here, but if you’d like to get in touch you can find my site through this comment and drop me a note through there. Happy to share and help out.

    Reply
    • Eric

      I agree, attacks like this are rare, but if you’re sending $1000 worth of paid traffic to a landing page per day you need to be sure you’re not losing any of that value.

      Drop me a line when you get your plugin ready and I’ll update this post with a link!

      Reply
  9. Donal

    Ahem! All your sign ups will come from the same IP address, something which Aweber won’t like.
    I thought about this to capture data but decided against it. If I could get on to their site, I’d check
    their T&Cs.

    A solution is possible, no doubt, and urgently required

    Reply
    • Eric

      Hey Donal, using the API is a better option than doing a php post request, but this post is meant to give you an example of what is possible. A script like this takes just a few minutes to write and it can save your butt.

      Reply
  10. Joe

    Umm. I believe that with all of this happening that you shouldn’t delete the email subs from your mysql.

    This has made me rethink my opt-in mechanics for sure now.

    Reply

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