Do Your Backups For Hurricane Season!


Like most South Floridians, I am once again focused on protecting my home and family for the hurricane season. Shutters? Check. Insurance? Check. Generator and fresh batteries? Check, check. It’s comforting to know that year in and year out just a little preparation can provide tremendous peace of mind.

As a technology consultant, I am willing to bet there is one item on my checklist that many overlook… computer backup. Without a current and proper backup, all your unique documents and files could literally be gone with the wind.

Nowadays, most people store priceless and irreplaceable photos, video, music, documents and more on their computer(s). And while computer hardware, operating systems and programs can be replaced, your unique data cannot. Whether you are PC or Mac user, personal or business, real and catastrophic loss can occur if your computer loses its information.

For those of you who are mere mortal computer users, a quick lesson is in order. Every computer has a component inside called a hard drive. It is a sealed rectangular unit whose insides resemble a multi-layered record player (you remember those?) with data on the platters instead of musical grooves. The job of the hard drive is to "permanently" store data when the computer is turned off. Should the hard drive fail, you lose data. And, since the hard drive is the only mechanical part of a computer, it is more often than not the first part to fail. The old adage of "it's not if, but when" fully applies here.

Therefore, regardless of the season, the first thing I do with new clients is to perform a brief risk analysis. It tends to hit home quickly and succinctly. I ask, for example, what would happen if you couldn’t access Quicken for a month or what if you lost all your photos from your trip to Alaska? Getting people to think about the personal, tangible impact of data loss drives the point about how important it is to back up.

Backups are a necessity of our modern lives. Hurricane season merely takes it to the next level because you need to take the preparation process to a higher level. Not only do you need to timely and accurate backups, you also need to locate the backup data somewhere safe. It’s called the “never under one sprinkler head” rule, and it means you don't want to store your backup in the general vicinity of your computer.

If a hurricane breeches your home to the point it destroys or damages your computer, what are the chances it will also damage your backup? Don't find out the hard way. Instead, plan and implement a backup process that includes moving your data far away before a hurricane arrives. This same principal of protection also applies for fires, floods and theft. Unless your backup data is in a safe location away from the source data, you are at increased risk.

So, how do you perform pain-free backups? That's a loaded question best answered this way... If you don't already have a plan, it's best to consult a professional. In one short session, they can map out a smart, easy and repeatable backup that is right for you. Once you start your backups, it's most important to keep doing them. Don't let down your guard, especially during hurricane season. Take it from someone who's seen grown men and women reduced to tears. Just do it!