Surviving a Data Disaster

As a business owner, the data stored in your computer is a valuable asset. At the same time, it is perhaps the most fragile. Many computer users simply do not understand the importance of backing up data.  For starters, it takes a lot of discipline and time to adhere to a routine backup schedule. Furthermore, most people believe that such a disaster could never happen to them.

Prepare for the Worst

So many businesses and personal computer users have lost critical information because of the belief that they were impervious to disaster. One example is a prominent Chicago-based advertising firm that nearly lost everything due to one mistake. Shortly after settling into their new office space, administrators and staff left for the night while maintenance stayed behind. After cleaning, a member of the maintenance crew turned off a hallway switch, unaware that it also turned off every computer in the control room. While the company was able to save a bit of data, most of the machines were only configured to back up only once per week. This caused them to lose a week's worth of creative planning.

System crashes are rare, but also a reality. When your business consists of frequently accessing critical data, a daily backup schedule is your best option for quickly restoring it.

Staff Awareness

More often than not, a system administrator is more computer literate than anyone else in the office. At the same time, they can't be expected to solve all the problems. An architecture firm in San Francisco recently reported losing a significant amount of the contacts in their database due to an intern's mistake. Apparently the intern was busy multi-tasking, going back and forth between keying in data and checking his emails. While the software was configured to automatically save data every ten minutes, the intern had created so many new files that the regularly scheduled save was terminated because of restrictions within the database. Eventually, the intern's computer froze, resulting in the loss of all data.

Although you expect your system administrator to come in for an occasional save, it's ultimately up to the staff to take initiative and learn how to protect themselves against system crashes.

Continuous Education

It is imperative that you and all staff members know how to operate backup utilities. You should never assume that employees know how to backup data without showing them how to do it. Just because they have mastered the task of creating a spreadsheets doesn't mean they're aware of how to back up their files. Keeping your staff educated on the company's backup system and reinforcing guidelines is solid insurance against losses that just may be irretrievable.

Using Available Resources

Just as it has done with many services, the internet has also revolutionized backup procedures.  Today, your data can be easily backed up on a web server and can be retrieved on any machine with online access. These online backup services offer convenience, reliability and savings, as many of them can be used for free or a low cost. This is a great option for offsite data storage as it will keep your data safe and reduce the need for a system administrator to get your company out of a jam.

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You can protect your computer from viruses without expensive software. Instead, follow these simple tips:

Stay up-to-date on all system updates.

Don't download any email attachments you weren't expecting.

Avoid freeware and peer-to-peer sharing sites.

Use alternative web browsers and email software.