By J. Stephen Spence
Iâ€™ve written about this before but a recent news article reminded me again of its importance.
In Rockford, North Dakota, there is a small weekly newspaper called the Rockford Transcript. It has been the townâ€™s only paper since 1883. They currently have a total of eight employees.
Although it started as a small fire, when it managed to get into the attic, the outside wind which was blowing at 25 mph and 95 degree temperatures, the fire quickly was out of control and everything was lost except for one computer and a couple of portable hard drives. Fortunately, it was later found that the historical copies of the paper which were stored in an old safe, did survive the fire although damaged.
The point is, although one computer was saved, probably a half dozen werenâ€™t. Thousands, if not millions of files were lost forever â€“ unless they backed them up (I donâ€™t know if they did or not).
Could this happen to you? Unfortunately, it could. Bad things happen even to the best of people. If you were to have a terrible fire today, where would that leave you? You probably have General Liability insurance to cover equipment and Heaven forbid, injuries. But what about the â€œrealâ€ business â€“ all those job files stored on a computer(s) around your shop? Insurance will replace the machines but they canâ€™t replace the files. What would you do?
This fear and the reality behind it, can all be put to rest by a simple exercise: Back up your computers. Itâ€™s easy in todayâ€™s world. Thereâ€™s no more carrying tapes or disks home every night or having to spend a ton of time transferring files every couple of days. And you have choices:
A system that is growing in popularity is an Internet linked â€œPersonal Cloudâ€ system where you buy a hard drive, connect it to your home Internet (or anywhere else) system and it automatically backs up your business computers every night while you sleep. These are not expensive and offer a variety of memory options up to at least 4TB for as little as a couple of hundred dollars. Some report they are a challenge to set up while others say they are a snap so check it out before you throw down you cash.
NOTE: For a backup system to be effective, it MUST be off-premises!
The system I use is â€œThe Cloudâ€. That mysterious, secretively located bank of servers (one is in Washington state â€“ Americans canâ€™t keep a secret) that can be tapped into by our computers every night while we sleep and upload all our sensitive data for instant retrieval any time we want it. Perhaps you are already using programs that are housed on the Cloud. The Word program I am typing on right now isnâ€™t even on my computer â€“ only a shell. The actual program is on the Cloud. This is both good and bad but one advantage is I can access it from any computer anywhere in the world so long as I have an Internet connection.
My Cloud back up kicks in about 3AM every night and updates whatever files I tell it to backup (the setup is one time only but can be updated at any time). I am never even aware it is happening. Of course this means I have to leave my computers turned on at night but I do that anyway. I also keep them on heavy duty UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supplies) as well. This is just common sense.
Access to the Cloud is easy enough and can be accomplished through a mired of ways including Amazon.com. Usually, the first 5 or 10 MB of storage is free with a small fee for heavier use. I actually use Norton Security for mine which is simple, inexpensive and automatic. Since Norton is constantly monitoring my computers anyway, it seem logical. So far, I have never had to access those files and hopefully, I never will. A few years ago (BC â€“ before the Cloud) I had a hard drive crash that held thousands of customer jobs. Although I had them backed up on Zip disks (young people wonâ€™t even know what those are â€“ they are the 8-Track version of computer storage) in a rather helter-kelter way, and I sent the drive off to have the data recovered (expensive!), I still lost hundreds of important files, including ALL of my accounting files for most of a year. That was nothing short of stupid on my part but it was an incredible learning experience!
The point of all this is: Back up your computers. Do it anyway you want to but back them up. How much work you do and how many employees you have entering data should determine how often you should back up your files. I know some companies that have huge backup systems that back up computers hourly. That is your decision but if you are going to use some automated system, why not nightly while you sleep? Just do it! Today! Donâ€™t put it off!
In the hope you will never need to use your backup, I remainâ€¦