When Your Computer Fails: A Disaster Recovery Strategy for the Home-based Business

If you are self-employed and work from home, you wear several hats, so to speak: you may be the marketing manager, accountant, receptionist or PR person. You are also your own technical support department and therefore responsible for safeguarding your data.

You should be clear about two things:

1. Sooner or later, disaster will strike. It does not have to be anything as dramatic as storm, fire or flood – an overheated motherboard, a malfunctioning hard drive or a computer virus can be enough.

2. The cost of backup hardware and media is trivial compared to the value of your data. Imagine that you lost your customer list, your product database or other critical business data. How would your business continue?

Here are some tips for implementing a disaster recovery strategy:

  • Buy an external hard drive . These hard drives, which connect to your computer via the USB 2.0 or FireWire port (check which port your computer has) have fallen dramatically at price. Some of them are about the size of a paperback and can be easily transported. Most come with a backup program that lets you schedule automatic backups for your data.
  • Put all critical computer-related information in a folder . This includes the customer support numbers of hardware and software manufacturers, serial numbers, warranty documents and configuration information. The last thing you want to do is to hunt for these items while you are unfortunately trying to get your computer working again.
  • Back up data and store the media offsite . Having an external hard drive is great, but what would happen in the case of theft, flood or fire? You should regularly (let your calendar program remind you) back up important data on CD-Rs or DVD-Rs and store these elsewhere, such as at a friend's house or in a safe deposit box at your bank.
  • Back up data online . There are numerous companies that will store your data online for a fee, but it might even be enough to use a web-based e-mail service such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo Mail, as these now offer very generous storage quotations. Just mail important files to yourself.
  • Have extra hardware . If your main computer fails, you can just move the external hard drive to your laptop and continue working. It might also be useful to keep an old computer around as a backup machine, as long as it still runs the programs you need to use. This way, you do not have to run out and buy a new computer right away, if your current one fails.

  • Source by Pamela Bruce

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