You tell yourself it is just a glitch, and you try again. You turn it off, and turn it back on… Same thing happens again. Your heart starts beating faster. The first thing you think about is that project that is due in 2 hours. You don’t have a copy of it anywhere but on your computer, the text, the pictures, the charts, the whole thing. Then you start thinking about all the emails that are in there. Some you have not yet answered, some you have yet to read, and many of them require some action soon. Then you think of your contact list, hundreds of people, accumulated over the years. Then your photos… and so on. Your mind is now racing. This could be really bad.
You call someone for help. You need your data fast, and you need a working computer fast.
From here, things can go different ways. Someone may be able to walk you thru a repair on the phone, and 10 minutes later, you are happily working again. Whew, you dodged a bullet, life is good. Or on the other end of the spectrum, someone tries to help you on the phone and cannot help you. They come out 3 hours later, and still cannot help you. You are now spending money, and your presentation is nowhere to be found. The computer guy recommends a service that may be able to recover your data, but it will cost anywhere from $500 to $2000, and it will take a week to 10 days. This has gotten really ugly.
Unfortunately for many of you, this is a bit close to home (but fortunately you now have a backup, which is up-to-date all the time). And for some of you this is a possible reality, if you have not taken the time to implement a reliable, automatic backup system.
For the SOHO (small office, home office) and everyday computer user, a backup plan can be as simple as an external drive, with automated backup software, which creates an up-to-date replica of your documents, pictures, music, email, contacts and any other data, automatically and regularly. This can happen every day, or even continuously. The Mac has Time Machine. The PC world has Windows Backup and Restore.
You can go to your neighborhood office supply or Costco, or order online, and buy an external drive for under $100. Many drives come with software built in, that will run when you plug the drive into your computer.
The next step, is to create a separate automated backup, so if your computer and the external drive get lost, you still have a backup in the cloud. There are many services that do this, such as the Carbonites of the world.
For the business or the family with more than one or two computers, I recommend a more sophisticated backup system, that is monitored and can handle more sophisticated databases, open files etc. I use www.OffsiteComputerBackup.com for example. They can handle servers, SQL databases, and offer economy of scale, as one account can handle many computers, and the much of the data is not duplicated from one computer to the other.
The most important part, is that you start immediately to create a backup system, so you can be assured your valuable data, in many cases – your livelihood – is protected against any mishap. And then, make sure you check and verify that your backups are working. Better yet, get a service that will verify this for you.