What do you do when Old Reliable goes up in smoke?

There are some things that you take for granted, sequels are almost never as good as the original, Stephen Colbert is funny and when you hit the power button your computer is supposed to turn on, not give you the dreaded Blue Screen of Death…!

Unfortunately the unthinkable happened to me and it’s been a painful couple of days (so far).  I was initially hoping that it might be something minor that could be fixed (although after a couple of hours of trying, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be fixed by me!).  So I called my friend Tim New over at Onsite Logic and had them take a look at it.

It’s never a good sign when the conversation starts with “Did you notice that burning smell?”.  It turns out that my hard drive had fried (literally) and short of a really expensive procedure all of that data was gone forever – Old Reliable had failed me.

The good news is that not all was lost – I had done a few simple things that kept it from being a major issue.

Back it up!

There are quite a few cool online services that you can use to back your stuff up that I might look into going forward, however my approach was a little more ‘old school’.

I used a combination of an external hard drive and my Dropbox account which I wrote about a few months ago.  The external hard drives have really come down in price – I think you can find a 500 Gigabyte drive for about $100 and it just plugs into your PC with a standard USB cable.  The drawback to the hard drive for backup is that you need to consciously remember to move your stuff there on a fairly regular basis (if it’s changing).  I hadn’t updated for several months, so I will end up losing a few things.  Primarily it impacts my music collection (just the few CDs that I added since this spring that I can re-add) and a few other things (mostly photographs, but I still have the original files).

What did work well was that I had recently moved almost all of my active ‘work’ files to my free Dropbox account.  It automatically syncs and updates in the background with any changes that are made.  It’s free and it’s easy to set up (and it synchs between my laptop and desktop (at least when I had a desktop).

Use web tools!

I was able to configure my Gmail account very quickly so I could get access to my email without really missing anything.  I think I would like to map my Gmail inbox to my Outlook setup, but I haven’t taken the time to figure that out yet.

I play some games through Steam (an online game repository) so when I reinstall my steam account it will automatically reinstall any games that I might want access to (although any offline save games will be gone…).

Finally – I should have been synching my calendar with Google Calendar, that’s probably been the biggest issue that I’ve had to date, trying to recreate a busy calendar (so if I miss a meeting with you, that may be why…!) 😉

What about you?

Are you covered?  When’s the last time you backed up your stuff?  Old reliable could burn out at any time, are you prepared?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

2 thoughts on “What do you do when Old Reliable goes up in smoke?”

  1. Erich Prinz says:

    There is a common misconception that Dropbox is a backup solution. It is not. Nor is Office 365, Google’s G-Suite, or any third party hosted application solution marketed commonly as ‘The Cloud’. These services may have High Availability, or HA, of their systems living in data centers, but the vendors are NOT responsible for any failures or the consequences of those failures (your lost data) on their systems. They don’t backup your data.

    Dropbox IS a great resource for file versioning and data accessibility across devices and geo locations. For Small Home Office types, an external drive is helpful to duplicate the data sets and is a rudimentary form of backup. Though sufficient for most sole props in the audience, it will not scale for businesses with employees where business continuity is a key desire of the principals. Never use it for active databases (pay attention if you use Quickbooks) as you may be tempted to share it with other users.

    Backups are generally characterized by two factors. First, they are automated. Second, they data is 100% recoverable, verified through **regular** testing of the data sets.

    The Gold Standard is to ensure data lives in three, geographically dispersed locations. Statisticians tell us there is a 100% recoverability using this model.

    WARNING For those in financial and medical markets, regulations increase the burden or responsibility for protecting client/patient information. Encryption of all data (at a minimum) and 100% recoverability of data is required. Sole prop financial planners, dental, chiro, osteopath come to mind.

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