Last week my computer crashed due to an old and cluttered hard drive. Rather than having a costly and time intensive recovery, I saved myself the trouble of having a technician pull it apart and rescue the data. Not to mention the loss of trade until I got it back online.

How, I hear you ask?

It is always a good idea to follow the rule of threes when setting up your back up system. You should have a backup external hard drive, a cloud back up (like Crashplan) and a file sync such as Dropbox to other computers.

I take this one step further by doing most of my work in the cloud and really only use my local pc as a kind of thin client where possible. Even though it runs a mini server for my POS (point of sale).

Last week when my computer died, it took me 6 hours to get up and running again instead of 6 days. That doesn’t seem like much if you are a big business with an IT support contract, but when you are a small business where the IT department is just you, its massive. The setback from loss of data can be devastating.

With a good plan in place, all it took to get up and running again was to go to the local computer shop and pick up a pre built tower off the shelf, install windows, office, and then download a couple of desk top applications like Dropbox, chrome and Lastpass etc. back in time for dinner with no loss of service.

The above mentioned items were the only time critical items necessary to continue operations (most of my business being on Dropbox). Everything else I could get from Crashplan overnight. Things such as photos and files that I use from time to time but are not critical to daily operations.

So after all of this I suppose the key points to take away from my experience are:

  1. The cloud gives you access from anywhere no matter what. I could still access data from my laptop or phone and not lose business (a patch job redundancy).
  2. Give priority to your mission critical information – how long will it take to get it back and how will that effect operations?
  3. Have a few redundancies – what if there is an error with one, didn’t connect properly, which backup copy can you get to faster or do you have to wait for it to download?
  4. Contract out your data responsibilities Рmy cloud accounting software Xero looks after it own backups and data protection. I can operate with a thin client or PC on a stick. No need for fancy and expensive hardware, just guaranteed access everywhere.
  5. Have a redundancy, make sure that your point of sale can save transactions when it is not connected to the Internet. And if possible during a power failure. You can do this by using an uninterruptible power source or an iPad system like Vend. This automatically uploads to the cloud when the Internet is back on and also integrates to Xero saving you data entry time.