Backup Basics #1: Do it now.

Think of the most valuable data in your life:  Photos of your baby, your kids, your family.  Company financials. Your work documents, email, contacts.  

Now imagine losing it all at 5PM today.

You have until 5PM today to take the most important first step to preventing data loss, and it takes less time than your lunch hour.

You have until 5PM today to take the most important first step to preventing data loss, and it takes less time than your lunch hour.

I want you to take that feeling and act on it.  You don't need to be technical. My dad proved that to me.  He once dug a hole in the ground out at Joshua Tree in the middle of the night, but the brand new Ironman Triathlon watch I had given him into the hole, covered it with dirt, marked it with a stone "duck" so he could find it in the morning, and went back to bed.  He did this because he couldn't figure out how to turn off the alarm.  Dad was so non-technical I sometimes called him "Mr. Analog". He had two hard drive failures, but he never lost data because he practiced Backup Basics #1: Do it now.  And I'll even make it easier for you (see the bottom of this post).

Later I'll share how to make your backing up bulletproof.  Today you just need to do something.  Here are a few things you can do, right now, that will give you greater peace of mind tonight and through the weekend:

Everyone: Go get an external hard drive.  

Whether you're a stay-at-home parent or a Fortune 500 CEO, you can go get an external hard drive today, plug it in to your computer, and copy most if not all of important files, getting them in two places.  Think risk management here: If your hard drive were going to die at 5PM today, would you rather have a mostly complete backup or none at all because you put it off because you didn't know how to do it according to what a technology guy would call "correct".   I'm suggesting this for anyone, including the most non-techie people in the world.  

On a Mac, you can either use Apple's Time Machine function built right into your system preferences, or if you want to keep it really simple, just drag and drop folders containing your important stuff into an external hard drive.  Want a tool that's really easy to use?  Try Bombich's Carbon Copy Cloner.  It's the most powerful, lease expensive application for backing up I've ever used.  If you can find your hard drive in one pull-down menu, and find an external hard drive in another pull down menu, then that's all you need to back up.   For Windows users, right-click and copy-paste folders to an external hard drive (copy, don't cut!) or if you feel a little adventurous, try Roxio's Back on Track application.  It's the closest equivalent to Carbon Copy Cloner I've found for the PC running Windows.

Remember, your hard drive could die at 5PM today.  In reality, it could go anytime- age doesn't matter that much with hard drives.  Go get an external disk now. Not sure what to get?  Send me a message via the contact form on this page and I'll be happy to provide suggestions.

Business owners and CEOs

If you read my blog post about your budget, then you already know that your go-to technology person or resource is probably busy fixing something today. There's nothing wrong with that, but if if that technical person's single highest priority is not data preservation, then your entire business is in danger.  I'm talking business interruption danger that could lead to going out of business.   I have a very simple step you can take to make sure you're safe, without having to get technical and without having to take your time away from other areas of your business:

Take everything else off your technology guy's agenda today except backing up.  Tell your tech you want a current backup of the company's data on your desk for you to take home before 5PM today, together with a list of the sources of data that got backed up.  Remember the saying "work expands to fill the time allotted"? There's no shortage of things to be fixed, and fixing things feels good.  Backing up is boring.  It tends to get on the back of the IT person's list, and most business owners feel that they probably wouldn't understand the list (or it makes their head hurt trying).  

It's that simple.  No other work is to be done. Backup on my desk by 5PM please.  Thanks.

So while your IT person's getting that done, go get a hard drive for yourself over lunch and get your own files copied over.

Do it now.

Notice I didn't say please.  Remember in my recent post I shared that after working with thousands of customers, I've learned that you can lose data for only two reasons:

  1. You put it off and never got to it.
  2. You think you're backed up, but you're not.

I want you to make progress right now, today, by taking an action. In my repair business at TechRoom, I cringe every time a mom or dad comes in for recovery of photos of their baby's first few years of life. A liquid spill on a notebook or a hard drive upgrade I can deal with.  Broken computers are repairable.  We're great at recovering data, but not every recovery is successful.  Lost data is permanent.

I want you to act on this, right now, today.  I don't care where you go, so long as you take the first step. To help, if you call TechRoom and mention this blog post I'll give you 20% off any TechRoom service between now and Wednesday November 21, including carry-in and remote access service to set up and verify your backup.