By Bill Moore
Last week’s storm and related power outages remind us that no matter how sophisticated our technology systems and networks are, we all rely on the regular, efficient delivery of electricity. The lesson we remember in times of power outages is to always have a “plan B.”
So what is your plan B?
The solution is to always back-up your work, in case the power goes out while you are working on it, or you accidently close a file without saving it. We’ve all done that at least once.
Does your company have a back-up policy? Are all the employees aware of it? More importantly, do all of your employees follow the policy? Are you sure?
Your policy should address these key points. What type of data should be backed-up? Where are we backing-up the data? When should the data be backed-up? Who is responsible for backing up data? Who oversees the back-up i.e., who is responsible to see to it that all appropriate data is being backed-up by all employees?
Obviously important data should be backed-up. This includes company records, contracts, correspondence, customer lists, data bases, financial records, government forms (payroll, taxes, etc.), human resource information, and leases. There are other items, but this is the basic list. If you think that it is important, then it is and should be backed-up.
So where should you back-up your data? You should have a separate computer or mega-file hard drive to which all files on your network should be backed-up. Consider purchasing one for your office. The minimal expense could prove to be extremely worthwhile in the long run.
You should also back information up to a larger server, i.e., “in the cloud.” “The Cloud” is nothing more than a system of super servers reached electronically via the internet. For example, we use Microsoft products, and so our office backs up to “OneDrive.” Check out what is available. Other products may be more appropriate for your use. Before you decide to use “The Cloud,” be sure that you are choosing a reputable provider. An added benefit is that you can then access any file from any computer – think work remotely, on the beach for instance.
You should also set your computer to back-up to itself frequently. It is easy to do at the very least, the information that you are working on will be saved in the event of a problem. You should also back up to two thumb drives. Keep one in a secure place on-site and keep the other in a secure place off the premises.
As to when you should be backing-up your data? As frequently as possible. Power goes out unexpectedly. Systems crash without warning. Set your systems to back-up data at least every 15 minutes. You won’t notice that it has happened, but you’ll be glad you did should you ever run into an outage or crash.
Who is responsible for backing up? The answer is simple. Whoever is working on a computer is responsible. Period. It might be a good idea to remind everyone in staff meetings. It is also important to assign a staff member to make sure that all users are regularly backing up. Importantly, the central storage device should be backed up daily to a separate device, “The Cloud” or to some other secure location.
Backing-up is an easy “best practice” to institute and can save you from devastating losses in the future.
These tips are only presented as advisory. You may already have a policy and practice established that is preferable. Your technology staff member or advisor may have better suggestions. The important thing is to be sure you have a plan B. Be sure that it is followed. Make everyone responsible for following it. Don’t fall victim to one of Mike Tyson’s most famous observations, “Everybody has a ‘plan B’ until they get punched in the mouth.”
Bill Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.