Just imagine, you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking: What happened to that sticky note with all of my passwords? I sure hope that guy with Geek Squad can recover my files. I am so in trouble if I can’t get those reports back. All of my contact information — gone! All of my financial information was on that computer; what am I going to invoice? The dog ate my thumb drive!
The reality of this scenario is not that it can happen but that it will happen. Computers break. As you become more dependent on any aspect of technology, you also need to consider how to recover or back up the irreplaceable. Think of an imaginary worst case scenario, hurricane, tornado, flood or fire. What information is critical for you to get up and running? Once you have decided what is absolutely necessary, it’s time to decide how to protect it.
The first line of defense is a surge protector. This will help to keep power surges from weather and lightning strikes from damaging your computer. You should buy the best model priced within your budget. The power strips that claim surge protection are often not enough to protect your computer from a really large surge. The better solution is to purchase a UBS, or battery backup system. These devices consist of a battery that will run your computer for a short time during a power outage and will allow you to shut down properly. They will also handle stronger surges than most power strips.
The second line is to have a backup of your information. The easiest way is to have two versions of your information. You can copy your files to a CD or DVD, save them on an external disk or use an online service that will securely save your information off-site. Each has its benefits and setbacks. Online services store your data remotely but are not very fast at transferring your data. An external hard drive is much faster, but all of your data is in one geographical location. What is right for you depends on your situation. If you are protecting your home files and you don’t have that much data, the online option would probably be best. If you need to secure a large amount of data, the external disk may be the way to go. Perhaps a combination of the two.
The the last line of defense is to be pro-active in backing up your data. Many will set up a system and after a few months begin to neglect the procedure. We begin to get comfortable, neglecting to back up as often as we should — eventually forgetting to do it altogether. Just remember, the longer you go without a problem, the more likely it is to occur.
The goal in an ideal situation is to always have a safe duplicate of the information you really need. In the long run, it is better to have something rather than nothing. So if you just manage to burn your important files to a CD or DVD once a month, it is better than nothing at all. The way to think about computers breaking is to use the word “when,” not “if” and to remember that seeing double can be a good thing.