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!
What a terrible thing to happen! I feel sick for the poor guy. I’m going to have to talk to my husband about this and see just what we’re doing to prevent us from losing all of our things. I posted this to my Facebook page to spread the word. It’s just one more thing we usually don’t think about until it’s too late.
Thank you Don for this great post
Usually People don’t even think about backup until they have a crash. Pro activity is key here.
I am backing up everything on Time Capsule that are backed up on two different NAS servers in mirroring. I also backup Dropbox and everything is also backed up online.
The challenge I have is to find an online service that has no limitation on the file size. Most services are offering unlimited space but their are limiting the file size to 2GB or less. This is a problem with large video or screeflow or Final Cut files. Any recommended online service that would overcome this limitation?
I use Crashplan pro, and haven’t seen any issues with large files. Plus, if you use their service where you can, for an extra price, get a hard disk from them, backup to that, then mail that to them, you can cut months out of the online backup price. (And it works the other way too, in case of need to recover from their servers.)
That’s horrible enough, Don.
But what would you say about the assumption of some very serious scientists and other ‘well informed’ people (i.e. military etc) that most probably THIS year is expected such a powerful magnet-storm on our Sun, so that ALL the electronic data in the world (inclusive military data) will be deleted. Nothing can be saved even miles below the surface of the planet…
Can become a great fun, huh…?
You are doing a great job Don, and I would like to express here my gratitude to you.
Well, I hear ya, but I’m certainly not creating a business or life plan based on such an occurrence… Since there would be nothing I could do about it, I won’t do anything about it, and I certainly won’t worry about it!
Its not backed up until you have three copies and one of those is off site
Check this out.
Just moved stuff from the storage to a new apartment.
Just packed everything out of the box.
Cranked my new computer open(laptop)
and the new external hard drive that i just bought.
And guess what saw,
an ad encouraging me to buy their online backup system.
My first impression was that I just bought an external hard drive, why in the world would I need another online back up system.
The ad says in case of fire, flood and stuff. And I was like P-L-E-A-S-E-!!
it can not happen to me.
To cut the long story short..
As I was putting stuff away while at the same time backing up my data on the external hard drive that I just bought.
One of the boxes that I was putting away hit the gas flex pipe and everything EXPLODED!
Are you kidding me?
Yes, right here in Racine.
Everything I bought, new internet marketing courses I bought with lots of money…
****IT WAS SO FAST I COULD NOT EVEN COMPLETE THE ENTIRE BACK UP.. I had to fight the fire as much as I could against the advice of the 911 operator.
Saved my laptop and ran out of the house.
**You are right. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when .
Thanks for sharing
Couldn’t agree more have mine set up so it does a daily web site ftp and a back up of my computer to a remote hard drive.
That’s just devastating! and Shame On Apple for not offering some sort of disaster recovery service!