How safe is your data?

Small business server with a phone on top

Computers wear out. It’s a simple fact of the digital age. Eventually a hard drive will stop spinning, or a CPU will overheat to the point of calamity. The problem isn’t that this happens. The problem is not being prepared when it does. And lets face reality here. If you have a computer or a server, it’s going to happen. It might be within the warranty period. It might be the day after the warranty expires. It might be several years down the road.

It’s not your fault. You’re a business owner, not a computer tech. You can’t predict when it will happen any more than you can predict when your car will break down, or when the kitchen sink will clog. The only thing you can do is be prepared. These steps will help ease the pain:
-Keep regular backups of your important information.
-Keep copies of your important logins. Better yet use an on line password vault.
-When you upgrade, keep your old unit handy for at least 60 days, just in case you missed something important in the transition.
-If your old server/computer/device still works when you upgrade, keep it around until you upgrade again as a fall back, “just-in-case” anything should happen. Just make sure you turn it on once a month to be sure it still works.
-If your computer or device starts getting slow, have the hard drive/internal memory cleaned by a professional. This will entail removing any programs or apps that you aren’t using anymore, updating & cleaning up the operating system, clearing out internet cache & cookies and all sorts of other things to speed it back up again.

The most important of these five steps for keeping your company running is the first. If your inventory database suddenly vanishes in a puff of smoke, you are in for a very rough day. If the manuscript that you’ve spent half your life working on becomes encrypted due to a ransomware infection, you will cry and shell out the ransom to get it back. If your business’s tax records for the past 7 years are no longer accessible you might start sweating bullets.

When it comes to your business, there are no valid reasons to take risks. Especially when we all know how unreliable electronic devices can be. If you don’t know, try relying completely on your phone or a tablet for everything – contacts, schedules, recipes, anniversaries, email, random searches for nuggets of information, little “forget-me-not” notes. Everything. Then leave it at home for a day.

I can already hear the chorus of “Yeah, right’s” echoing through the internet over this concept. “Leave my [iPhone/Android/Blackberry/electronic gizmo] at home? Are you crazy?! What if there’s an emergency?” That’s always the first argument.

But, that is exactly the point I’m trying to make. Going even a single day without access to that little treasure trove of information is an exercise in anxiety. So much so, that even just considering it has some people biting their nails.

So imagine the level of anxiety when you reach for that same device and it is completely unresoponsive. The display doesn’t light up and it doesn’t make any of it’s little sounds. You try everything, but it remains a lifeless little ‘brick’.

Is the information on it still there?
Will you be able to get that really important piece of information that was sent to you in a text message?
Did that last email you typed actually get sent?
What’s wrong with this silly thing anyway?

Now imagine the peace of mind of knowing that your information is safe and sound. The device is still dead, but the important stuff is safe and sound. The anxiety and nail-biting goes away and is replaced with a minor annoyance at having to rely on your older device until you can get the newer one repaired or replaced. It’s still an inconvenience to have a device fail, but it doesn’t have to be a catastrophy.

The big takeaway here is simply this: develop a habit of keeping backups. Keep old equipment, if it still works. Keep copies of your truly important data, personal and professional. Keep a record of all of your login credentials, but not on a sticky stuck to your computer monitor. It doesn’t matter what backup system you use, so long as you use it.

Do you already have a backup system in place? If you do, then you’re ahead of the game. Good for you! If not, what are you waiting for? Copy your truly important information off your computer now, while you’re thinking about it. Use an external hard drive, a thumb drive or even a file storage service in the cloud.

Then you can reach out to a pro to help you setup an automated system of keeping your data safe and sound.