Last week I woke up and strolled over to my home office to find that the screen on my laptop was black. After rebooting, and playing with the connections, I came to realize that the backlight was blown and that it was time to go out and buy a new system. I also realized another important fact: my back-up plan was severely flawed. Of course, since I preach the importance of organization to my clients, al of my documents and files are meticulously arranged on the hard drive, but I had failed to set my programs to automatically back themselves up daily to my external hard drive.
Luckily, my problem was not hardware related, and I was able to move everything to my new system, but the event did make me scrutinize my lack of disaster-preparations. Unfortunately, I have seen this many times with others, and I am sure that I will continue to hear horror stories so I figured it would be wise to outline my new plan in order to perhaps help others avoid such issues in the future.
I always keep digital records of everything, in part to avoid the clutter that papers create, but also in order to be able to find things more easily. I sign up for electronic delivery of all bank, brokerage, and credit card communications, and each institution has its own folder. Anything that is not delivered electronically gets manually scanned and archived.
Each program I use, whether it be for personal or client finances now gets backed up upon exit, automatically, with the last 5 back-ups being retained. Almost all programs create default files containing the name of the file with the date for easy recognition. Each day I get an e-mail of my blog and website databases which get stored as well.
At the end of the day, I transfer the entire contents of my partition containing all of this information not only to an external hard drive (which automatically overwrites the previous data), but also to a DVD-RW. At the end of each month, the RW is copied to a DVD-R and moved to an off-site location, and the RW gets erased and prepared for the next month. This is an important step since just like in finances, you should never keep all of your eggs in one basket: having multiple back-up solutions ensures that should one fail, there is always a back-up to your back-up!
I have also been tinkering with the idea of using an online storage system as well, in order to take advantage of the ease of delivery and retrieval. However, since I am responsible for other people’s I am making very certain to do my due diligence so that I can find the most secure and reliable source for these services.
All in all, the migration to a new system can be quite tedious even with having everything you need to do so, but the migration isn’t the worst of your worries should disaster strike. Not having a back-up plan can wreak havoc on you mentally when you come to realize that all of your important documents and information are gone. The simplest way to avoid this agony: back-up your information often, and on several different types of media, keeping at least one copy off-site in case of emergency.