Is your computer data backup offsite?

computer-serversSummer is coming, and so is fire season. Is your computer data backup offsite?

I (Warren Frush) used to live in Colorado Springs, CO.  Last summer, I was reviewing coverage of the horrible fire burning there, I was jolted when I looked at a map of the fire and saw that it was burning within about five blocks of my former, very suburban home there.

Watching the video images of people hastily packing some belongings and scrambling to get away from the approaching fires, I was reminded about the advice to have a “go bag” – ie, a collection of the stuff you want to be able to grab in a very big hurry if you have to evacuate.  There’s a challenge in the concept, though, since many of the items you’ll absolutely want are in everyday, constant use.   Some are obvious, but some aren’t.   For instance, in addition to irreplaceable photos and albums, you’d want your wallet, purse, cellphone. You’d also want your passport, if it is in the house. I’d also need my charger for the cellphone, or I won’t be using it all that long.  Laptop? Same thing, although that charger is in my laptop carry case.

But what you definitely won’t have time to do is back up your computer files. If you’re reading this from a personal point of view, then get one of the “backup my PC to the cloud” kind of products like Carbonite or Mozy.  They’re services that can either backup your whole computer or your user documents folders. That means, in particular, those pictures and videos that are on your hard disk.  You remember them? The ones you could never replace if you lost them?  It doesn’t even take a calamitous fire – just a hard disk failure.  I’ve got ten years of digital images on my disk. I also have ten years worth of images saved offsite, so a hard disk problem won’t cause me to lose the pictures of my kids growing up.

If you’re reading this from a business point-of-view, then contact us! Or contact a competitor, but, whatever, get your key business files backed up offsite.  This is do-as-I-say, do-as-I-do advice. At least if I had to leave the office in a hurry, or if I was not here to gather anything, I won’t have to worry about my business files.  They get backed up to offsite locations every night, whether I remember to think about it or not.  I can get to them even if I don’t have my computer with me– I can use a different computer and still get to “my stuff.”

Here’s my short-list of what I should take with me if I have to leave the house in a hurry. Your list may look different! It also may look different depending on how much time you have to leave.  Note that there will typically be a list for each family member and pet.

  • My kit – with prescription drugs, prescription glasses, contacts, and that sort of thing. Also my toothbrush, toothpaste, some soap, nail clipper,  etc. Your list might include dentures, orthotics, hearing aids, or other intensely personal gear.
  • My wallet.  Hopefully with some cash in it. But with driver’s license, health cards, pictures of family and pets.
  • My cellphone, and its charger.
  • If I have time, my laptop bag, with the laptop computer in it.
  • The family passports.
  • If I have time, the family photo albums (pre-digital).
  • If I have time, a change of clothes.
  • Then I’ll append on the many great suggestions on the various “Be Prepared!”

There’s many sites on the web to help you plan your go-bag.  Here’s a few:

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Go-Bag
http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/tips/10-must-haves-storm-survival-kit.htm

There are many, many more.  Spend some time and plan ahead.

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