We take steps to secure our tool trucks. We insure our contents, so that if our inventory burns up in a fire, we have the funds to replace it. In an earlier article, I wrote about computer security for your customers’ personal information. What about the other data on your computer? What would you do if your data simply disappeared from a hard drive crash?
Here are some statistics:
• A hard drive crashes every 15 seconds.
• 32 percent of data loss is caused by human error.
• 31 percent of PC users have lost all of their PC files to events beyond their control.
• 25 percent of lost data is due to the failure of a portable drive.
• 44 percent of data loss is caused by mechanical failures.
• 20 percent of computers suffer a fatal hard drive crash during their lifetime.
• 100 percent of all drives eventually fail.
That last one is ominous. We know, working in the automotive field, that everything breaks in time. That hard drive on your computer is eventually going to fail. You could lose all of your customer information, inventory information, sales history, customer notes and accounts receivable information. In short, everything that makes your business run.
There are data recovery services that can pull data from a failed hard drive. They are not a sure thing. Even if they can get the data back, expect to pay big dollars for the service. (I have heard of hard-drive recovery costing up to $5,000.)
BACK IT UP
You need to protect yourself. Most of the franchise software, plus independent route software, comes with a backup utility built right in. They are all different, so read your documentation or call your technical support people if you have a question about your specific program.
Even though you have that backup program, when was the last time that you used it? Did you perform a backup last night? If you didn’t, you are at risk. Even a week-old backup is better than nothing, but do you really want to have to recreate a week’s worth of data? ( Back up your data daily! No exceptions!)
You can use many different types of media for backup. We used to use tape drives, but they are pretty much obsolete now. If you still use a tape drive, make certain that you are using at least two to three tapes. If you use one, the tape will break when you need it most. Use one tape on odd-numbered days, and one tape on even-numbered days.
Thumb drives are common today. They have an advantage of working in a USB port, which most new PCs have. They are also very small and can be stored easily. Thumb drives are fairly inexpensive as well, so it is easy to have three or four different ones. Again, get yourself on a schedule; just in case one fails, you will never be more than one day out on your data. You can use CDs or DVDs if your computer has a writable drive, or even use a plug-in hard drive.
STORE IT RIGHT
Where to keep the backup media is as important as doing the backup. You can keep it on your tool truck or in your home, but what if there was a fire that destroyed your house or truck? The data would be gone, and if your computer were in the same place, you would have nothing. Some people make two backups, and put one in the house and one on the truck.
Think back to 9-11 and all of the businesses that lost data when their computers were destroyed. Some of these businesses had to close. Without the data, there was nothing left for them. Some of the businesses had off-site backups — the data was sent over a network connection to a computer located somewhere else. This process is usually done automatically, every night or even every hour, depending on what the business needs.
Up until recently, these services were out of reach for the average small business. Now, they are easy to use and reasonably priced. One of the most common and easiest to use is Carbonite (www.carbonite.com). This works by putting a small program on your computer that sends files to a central server. It detects what has changed on your PC since the last backup, and sends data at a timeframe that you select. Carbonite does this automatically, and your data is protected at all times. You can restore your data with just a few clicks. And, it only costs $54.95 per year. You can set your computer to do this complete backup every night when you are done for the day. The data is safe and private, as these services use strong encryption.
Keep your business data protected. Make sure that you have a plan to back up and protect your data. When you get that blank screen of a crashed computer, you will be happy that you can fall back on your backups, and will have your business running again before you know it.