This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of spending a few days at an annual dance convention, where I was able to hang out with some old friends, learn new dance techniques and enjoy some pretty fantastic performances. It was a blast, as I’ve come to expect from this particular convention in previous years.
What wasn’t as exciting was the text my husband sent me about an hour before I hit the road…
“Computer fried – blue screen of death, and I can’t launch safe mode.”
Those of you who rely on computers for your internet businesses know exactly what kind of terror that message strikes in your heart. For most of us, the dreaded BSOD means almost certain data loss, plus hours of delays – if we’re lucky enough to avoid the cost of a new computer entirely.
And if you’re sitting there thinking, “That can’t happen to me!” – think again. My computer had up to date virus and spyware protection, firewalls running and regular disk cleanups and defrags to keep it in good shape. But at the end of the day, it’s impossible to protect against everything and something nasty just happened to slip past my filters.
So here’s your PSA for today – I want you to take a second to think about what would happen if your computer went down unexpectedly.
Is your data backed up somewhere secure?
Do you have the skills needed to repair the computer, or the money set aside to pay someone else to diagnose and fix your problems?
Do you have a backup plan in place that’ll allow you to keep your internet business running without delays or lost time?
If you don’t have a clear answer to each of these questions, it’s time to start thinking about them!
In my case, I was incredibly fortunate. I had installed Carbonite at the end of last year, so all of my data is securely backed up online and restoring it to my computer will be a simple process once I have everything wiped and the OS reinstalled. I’ll likely have some limited data loss and it’ll take awhile before I get all of my software installed again, but overall, these problems aren’t nearly as catastrophic as they could have been.
I’m also fortunate that I invested some time last month practicing mobile productivity and figuring out how to run my business remotely from my iPhone, as that proved invaluable over the weekend while I was traveling and will continue to be helpful until my computer is back up and running.
But as lucky as I was, it’s easy for me to see how bad things could have been. Beyond having all of my business records and files stored on my laptop, my entire music collection lives there, plus digital pictures I have no physical copies of, my best work from high school and college, and a ton of other important files that simply couldn’t have been replaced if they hadn’t been backed up ahead of time.
So here’s what I want you to do today…
#1 – Develop a data backup strategy. I use (and love, and highly recommend) Carbonite (not an affiliate link). It’s simple to use, reasonably priced and it backs up your data automatically – there’s really no reason not to have this kind of protection.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of storing information online, invest in either an external hard drive or a set of recordable CDs to copy your files to, and set a schedule to make regular backups of your important data. It’s time consuming, yes, but it’s totally worth it in the event of an emergency.
#2 – Have a backup plan in place. I’ve talked about this one before, but I can’t overemphasize how important it is to know how you’ll handle an emergency before it happens. Unexpected data loss is a major cause of business failure, and it’s easy to see how dropped projects, delayed fulfillment or missed client contact could result in a loss of income.
Take a second to think about which tasks are critical to your business. For example, if you’re a drop shipper, you might be able to go a week or two without updating the product descriptions on your website, but if you fail to process orders for that long, you’re almost certainly going to lose business and develop a bad reputation.
Once you know what tasks are critical, have a game plan for keeping up with them during your outage. Maybe you’ll be able to run everything from a smartphone like me, or maybe you’ll need to rely on the computer at your local library or at a friend’s house. Whatever your contingency plan is, the most important thing to do is to have one to follow in the event of an emergency.
I sincerely hope you never have to go through a hard drive crash or any other kind of emergency that disrupts your business. Even though I recognize how lucky I am in this situation, it’s still a pain in the ass to go through the process of reinstalling Windows and reconfiguring all of the settings and programs I had before.
But if you do wind up in one of these situations, take it from me – you’ll feel loads better knowing that you took the time to put together your backup plan to protect your business and your livelihood.