Recovering from a catastrophic data loss is entirely possible, but only if you are prepared.
As business owners, we all know that in one form or another, at least one of our company computers is either going to completely crash, be lost/stolen or will fall victim to virus problems. When most people think of data loss, they think of a crashed hard drive. I did a little digging into hard drive failure rate. Credible and easy to understand research was surprisingly hard to find. But, I did find a self-study conducted by Backblaze. Backblaze is the company I choose to utilize for online backup storage. (Note: I do not receive any compensation for this mention. I just found them to be the best.) The summary from their study is that hard drive failure rate grows to more than 50 percent after 4 years.
But what about laptop loss, dropping a computer, getting hacked and/or held hostage or falling victim to virus problems? These events happen on a daily basis. Having an ongoing and easy to manage computer backup plan is critical. Imagine what would happen if your data suddenly became inaccessible for even a whole day, much less multiple days. Your strategy should be to prevent — not fix — an issue.
1. Keep critical files on a cloud-based hard drive.
This will create and almost real-time offsite backup for your critical files. I prefer DropBox because I feel they don’t profit as much as Google from indexing and sending advertisements based on personal data. Have you ever tried to store an encrypted file on GoogleDrive? It rejects it. This is because Google makes money reading your data. I spend the $99 for DropBox. It’s easy to use, and I feel more private.
2. Have a local computer backup solution.
On the Mac, this is a no brainer. Buy an external hard drive, plug it in, and use Apple’s built in Time Machine solution. This works amazingly well. If you’re on a Windows 10 machine, have a look at Windows File History and Windows Backup and Restore solutions. These are bare-boned and basic, but they also work very well. For Windows users, take a look at an article by LifeHacker that walks you through it.
3. Have an offsite computer backup solution.
What happens if your computer and external hard drives are stolen, burned or something similar. You’ve still lost all your data because the computer and backup drive are in the same location. This is why you should have an offsite backup solution. I personally use BackBlaze. I tested the various solutions and found them to be the best. They have awesome customers service too.
4. You should have virus protection on both your Mac and your PC.
I use Sophos Personal for my personal machines and Sophos Business for my company computers. It works very quietly in the background. It’s also free for personal machines. I pay for my work machines and no, I’m not receiving any payments for promotion. I never really know this is working, and it never gets in my way. Once in a while, it will give an alert about suspicious activity, but it’s very rare.
5. Ensure you have a modern router and all your firmware is up-to-date.
This is very important. Most people install their routers and just forget about them. It’s nice not to think about them, I get it. But, once a month or once a quarter, log into your router, and ensure you have the latest firmware/software updates. In most cases, these updates will add security features and increase performance. It takes just a couple minutes and is usually a breeze to complete.
6. Ensure all the steps above are active for each computer in your office.
If you have more than 10 computers in your office, it’s probably time to think about a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution for local physical backups. Otherwise, you’re going to manage a whole bunch of drives. It’s up to you. But you should still have offsite backups, cloud drive storage for critical files and virus protection for each computer.
7. During your annual strategy meeting, audit your computer backup solution.
Don’t spend much time on it. Just ensure everything is up to date and running well.
The trick to preventing a data loss crisis is to keep it simple and redundant. I am not an IT expert, but I was an engineer at Apple before building business strategy simulations at Simulation Studios. I believe in keeping solutions simple and redundant. These basic tips will get you started.