This post is an extension of the post about hurricanes and other disasters in that it discusses what should be a basic business practice in a world where computers dominate our business lives. BACK THEM UP! And back them up in more than 1 way if possible. And, make sure the back ups are not kept in the office where the computer is located. We have gone from making backups on floppy disks, zip disks, to tape drives (several generations of tape drives), to external hard drives and now to cloud back up devices. Cloud back ups solve the problem of off site back up – but, of course, their limitation is the assumption that the internet is working when you want to access the computer data. Thus, for us the answer is cloud + back up to external hard driveS. The S is for multiple drives which are rotated in and out of the office on a regular basis. And, back ups of workstations and laptops are important as well to minimize downtime should a computer crash. All of this may seem obvious but this is one of those things that require time, thought, and a bit of money to be expended to make sure that back ups are happening as intended on a daily basis. It is not enough to hope for the best or wait until the computer starts “acting funny” (to use a technical term) to back it up. Spending the time, effort, and money proactively is much more cost and stress effective than trying to recover from a data crash, fire, lightning strike, etc. We’ve learned the hard way that it is critical to stay ahead of problems with data and computer systems!
Proactivity is the key in preventing many computer nightmares. Recently, due to an unforeseen, extremely negative event concerning Magnus’ long time computer technician, we were compelled to hire a new computer tech. The new computer tech explained his philosophy to my partner and me during our first meeting: constant monitoring of our system, to prevent it from “crashing.” This was a new way of thinking about the computer system, in that for the decades we have been in business, and prior to that, while working for other employers, the computer techs usually worked in a reactive capacity, responding to one emergency after another. Although this working style afforded the computer techs to be perceived as heroes who saved the day when the computer broke, preventing the computer from breaking in the first place is preferable. On a related note, each staff member, including me, is required to leave his/her computer turned on during the night time hours one day weekly, to allow it to check for problems. Due to our fastidious backing up, careful monitoring of any unusual functioning, and our new computer tech’s proactive approach, we are spending less time and money on our computer system, allowing us to use our computers more effectively and efficiently.