It started out as an act of love. A friend of mine, a father on a small island in Finland who I was visiting with last week, wanted to give his daughter a gift she would cherish for her birthday. He decided to give her his old iPhone 3g.
It seemed the perfect gift – he wasn’t using it anymore (he’d upgraded to the 4S,) and it was a perfectly good phone that his daughter would love.
She was thrilled at the gift, and eager to have fun with the phone. But as he turned it on he realized that all of his calendar and contacts were still on the old phone.
OK, not a problem – the contacts were backed up, so the birthday girl started to delete the contacts.
All 750 of them…
His entire database of clients and customers…
Everything was fine, until he turned on his phone later that evening, and I heard a gasp all the way across the house.
He, one of the world’s leading designers of custom boats and ships, had just lost his ENTIRE database, the list of people who contract and buy custom-made boats (not an easy list to build or recreate, especially since most of them only need a new boat once every several years.) The contacts that are his livelihood, All gone.
It turns out that he thought his contacts WERE backed up, but they were actually only stored on the iCloud. So, as she deleted each contact from his old phone, she was also deleting them from his new phone, and his iPad.
As I watched his agony and struggle to find any way to get them back (it appears that Apple doesn’t provide data recovery services from the iCloud – what are they thinking?,) I started thinking about how much of my mission-critical data is out there, on servers and in the cloud, not being backed up through my regular backup systems.
Yes, I have multiple backups running of my home and business computers, backups that store data both locally and virtually (I dearly hope you do too – you know that the question is not if, but when you will have a catastrophic hard drive crash!)
The real question I’m asking here is what are you doing to back up the other “stuff” that isn’t being covered by your normal computer backups? Some data that immediately comes to mind:
- Contact data
- Google docs and other virtual collaboration tools
- Emails (especially if you use something like Gmail, yahoo, or (not recommended) Hotmail
- Your email list (when was the last time you downloaded a copy of your aweber contact list?)
- Sales and customer data from your shopping cart
- Financial data (if you use an online financial site like Mint or Quicken)
- Social media posts and contacts
- WordPress blog posts
- Your website’s comments, reviews and other customer-created-content
- Evernote, Dropbox and other data
Basically, anything that’s stored somewhere else that’s outside of your direct backup system.
If you’re like me, you just had a minor heart palpitation, as you realize how much of your data is at risk.
Yes, those online companies usually have backup systems that should ensure that your data remains safe, but accidents, hacks, and other problems DO occur. (And remember that since many of these services are free it may mean that the companies that provide them may be focusing most of their venture capital on servers and bandwidth, rather than creating effective backup services, so you may be even more at risk!)
Remember, NOBODY will ever value your data as much as you do. Don’t rely on anyone else to protect it for you!
What are you going to do to protect your online data?
Recommended Action Plan:
- Take some time this weekend to make a list of all the data you have “out there” that isn’t being actively backed up with your internal backup system.
- Prioritize it from mission critical down to less important
- Starting at the top of the list, research each service and figure out how to back them up to your computer. (Many of them will allow you to export the data, oftentimes as a .csv or other type of file.) Get a one-time backup and devise a system to allow for regular backups in the future
- Make backing up that externally-stored data a regular part of your business routines
- While you’re at it, do a test of your existing backup system for your home and business computers. Copy a directory to another computer, jump drive or DVD; delete that directory, then try to do a restore of that data from your backup system. It’s far better to know whether something’s going to fail now, while you still have your data, then later when your data’s crashed!
- Consider your backup system redundancy. If you’re only using one software program or one storage system to back up your data, you’re at huge risk! It’s far better to have more than duplicate backups than one failed one.
It’s your choice. It’s your data. Can you risk to lose it? Don’t allow that to happen by actively backing it up!
Just go do this stuff!
P. S. What online data are you most concerned about being lost? What are you planning to do about it? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to like, +1, tweet and pin this!