My long-time client and colleague Eve Abbott, Organizer Extraordinaire, kindly offered to act as guest columnist for this week’s Backup Reminder while I’m at the Podcast Expo. I’ll be back next week as usual.
“But I DID Back Up My Computer Files!”
By Eve Abbott
Why are computer crashes like earthquakes? Because it is a sure thing that it is when, not if. I bought a brand new Hewlett Packard Pavilion XP system and began to back up weekly. Seven months later, I returned from making a cup of tea to hear my computer going click-click-click loudly. My hard drive had just crashed for no reason at all. As is often the case, I lost everything on it.
I felt confident because I had my data backed up by copying my entire working C-drive onto CDs—but even with backups, and even if your computer is still under warranty, let’s get realistic about how much time and money a crash can end up costing you.
It took four days for me to get the special shipping box HP sent me to return the computer. They replaced the hard drive, and it was returned within 10 business days at no charge for repair and shipping. This still adds up to three weeks without my computer.
First, I rented a laptop and spent hours installing the programs I normally use. Laptop rental cost me $250.00 for one month, with a $500 refundable deposit. I could have rented a desktop system for a little less per month, but I would have had to wait a week to get the computer. It was great to have the laptop to use until my repaired computer arrived. But, I had to go through the same restoration process again when it was returned with a new hard drive. More time lost and more frustration, too.
Second, I spent hours importing my data from backup CDs. I still lost almost a week’s worth of data (Quicken entries, Word documents, calendar and contact information) because that’s how long I go between backups.
Third, I spent hours recreating the custom settings on my software. Fourth, I had to install some smaller programs that I’d forgotten were added on after my first programs backup.
I paid $1,000.00 in computer consultant fees to get the laptop set up, and my computer taken apart and set up again to get it running A-OK. That’s apart from data recovery costs, which my backups saved me from having to pay.
The grand total: $1,250.00 and 7 days in lost time.
Pretty expensive considering that I had all my current data backed up onto CDs.
There are four questions you need to ask yourself regarding your back-ups:
1)How critical is your data? (My business and life are on my hard drive = critical)
2)Do you add or process high volumes of information?
3) In what time frame do you add enough to make it a real loss? (day, week, per project)
4) Do you work with very large files of any type?
The more information you process or add to your computer hard drive, the more often you need to back up. For high volume or crucial files you need to backup daily.
I recommend you archive paper every year after taxes (along with a backup of your accounting program and data), consider backing up entire projects onto CD when you’re finished. This keeps the data available and safe, without cluttering your hard drive. You can file a project closeout CD with the matching archived paper files. Or keep a variety of backups in a CD organizer (date labeled) divided up into Projects, Backups and Programs.
The backup CDs I use are ‘data only’ to safeguard important information in case a problem develops in between system backups. My personal number one CD backup is the updated text of my books. If you are going to archive data (e.g., taxes) and may not access the backup for a long time – go with CDs. CDs are more stable, and you are less likely to run into trouble with irretrievable data. Always use premium brand-name CDs (or other media) for backups.
External Hard Drive (XHD)
I chose this option after my crash disaster because I can recreate my entire system without the wasted time of restoring my operating system and settings, downloading programs and data from backups, and resetting application customizations, etc.
This option allows you to completely restore your computer, if necessary (with no hard drive damage). Or, install a new hard drive on your computer and then restore immediat
After backing up, I store the XHD in the trunk of my car (in a laptop case for protection). Even if the house burns down I still have my entire computer capability just outside in my car.
Backup, BackUp, BACKUP!
So, how can you combine these different backup choices to work in your particular situation?
Take the simplest method that will safeguard your information. If all you need is a CD organizer box for backups – great!
I use the XHD weekly for a programs and data off-site backup. In between I use CDs, depending on the size of the files and how long I want to maintain them.
Also, Sallie now has me on a daily automatic backup onto some kind of monster external hard drive that is in the computer closet at my office location. That’s because my new book A Brain New Way to Work™ is in the final stages and I don’t want to lose even a smidgen of work done on the text and pictures.
If you do nothing, you are guaranteed to have a disaster sooner or later. Choose what works best for you and set a reminder to BACK UP as often as you need to stay sane when it does happen.
Sign up for Sallie’s backup reminder and contact her for your particular questions. And fear not, the FileSlinger will be back next week. Thanks for letting me pinch-hit for our champion!
Tips excerpted from How to Do Space-Age Work with a Stone-Age Brain.™
© 2006 Eve Abbott. All rights reserved.
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