Are You Protecting The Family Jewels?
By Rick Adams
What do you think I'm referring to, the crown jewels in England? Nope, the family jewels I'm referring to are those pieces of electronic data that make up your online business.
Protecting these jewels means you are protecting yourself, your business, and your livelihood.
So what happens if your PC or MAC crashes? How can you tell? Well, you don't hear the normal spinning noise of the hard drive. Instead you hear the sound of a piece of plastic or metal rattling around somewhere.
You know, the sound that shouldn't be coming from your hard disk. Or you see some really weird boot commands on your monitor as your system is trying to reboot itself.
Once the realization hits you the main question is do I have my information backed up? Panic sets in as you find out what is lost.
If anyone has suffered through a disk crash and lost data, then you know what a royal pain it is to recreate everything. In many cases it's lost forever or it may take weeks or months to rebuild your data files and information.
There are companies that specialize in recovering data from crashed hard drives. They may charge you $5000 to do it but in some cases even they can't recover the data.
It's happened to me so I'm writing from experience. I had to learn the hard way.
If your business's data files were lost, would it impact your business or put you out of business?
Okay, you know you need to back up your information regularly to protect yourself. What to do?
You need a couple of tools to properly backup and restore data. These tools are a backup & restore software program and the backup media (drive/disks). The type of media will be dependent on the amount of data you want to backup and where to store it.
ZIP drives are very common for backup and restore functions. They use ZIP disks that are typically 100MB - 250MB in size. ZIP disks are about 3 1/2 inches square and about 1/4 inch in depth.
CD-ROMS are very popular as well because they hold between 600-700 MB of data. They are easy to store as well.
Both ZIP and CD-ROM require specialized devices for writing and reading data. CD-ROM's come in recordable (CD-R) and read-writeable (CD-RW) CD's. Recordable means you can write to them once and read from then on. Read/Writeable means you can write and read from them over and over again.
I've used both and I like the CD-ROM's because you can store more info on them.
Here are 9 categories of items that you should back up daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the importance of the data and how frequently it changes. These are only suggestions and you should determine the importance of your data and backup your files based upon your requirements.
As reference, most companies perform full backups each week on their business data, and partial (only files that changed) backups daily. This method allows only 1 day of lost data, which is about the best you can do.
1) WEBSITE FILES
HTML source code, graphics, webpage templates, and CGI scripts.
BACKUP FREQ: Depending on updates, daily or weekly.
2) NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBER LISTS Check with your mail list or autoresponder provider to see what their policy is for backing up mailing lists. If they don't have the ability to backup and restore your individual list on a daily basis, then you better export your list daily to your PC and back up the lists from there.
BACKUP FREQ: Daily
If you have your own mailing list software, then backup your list daily.
If you average 100 subscribers per day and back up your list weekly, then you have the possibility of losing 700 subscribers names and info between backups. That sounds like potential revenue going down the drain if you lose these subscribers.
3) EMAIL FOLDERS
If you are like me you have created a number of folders for storing emails. These emails contain things like affiliate ids/passwords, online receipts for software or services purchased from other companies, customer correspondence, membership site ids/passwords, and testimonials for your products.
These are critical pieces of business information to maintain and protect.
BACKUP FREQ: Weekly
4) PRODUCTS YOU PURCHASED If you purchased a product from another company and use it on your website or to support your business, make sure it is backed up at least once. Especially if it was downloaded electronically.
BACKUP FREQ: Once, no need to constantly back these files up every month.
Here is an issue to think about, back up the install file or backup the directorie(s) that are created from the installation steps? Personally, I backup the install file, it's usually smaller because it has been compressed, and I can easily reinstall it.
5) OUTPUT GENERATED BY PRODUCTS YOU PURCHASE If you use a product to create documents, articles, code, graphics, spreadsheets, etc be sure to back up those pieces of data.
BACKUP FREQ: Daily or weekly depending on use.
6) BUSINESS FINANCIAL INFORMATION Be sure to back up your financial data which includes, bank information if you bank online, previous years tax information if you file online, electronic receipts, account numbers, passwords, etc.
BACKUP FREQ: Weekly or monthly
7) NEWSLETTER DIRECTORY
If you publish a newsletter or ezine, be sure to backup the archive.
BACKUP FREQ: Weekly
8) PRODUCTS YOU OWN
By all means protect this information. The last thing you need is to lose the source to your product.
BACKUP FREQ: Once, unless you have modified it, then back it up as needed.
9) CUSTOMER INFORMATION
If you sell your own products and acquire information from each customer, be sure this info is backed up. If it's stored on your PC or MAC, then back it up daily. If it's stored on a provider system, make sure they have it backed up daily.
BACKUP FREQ: Daily
Are You Protecting The Family Jewels?
By Rick Adams
TIPS LEARNED THE HARD WAY -
Follow these tips and you should not have any worries about protecting your family jewels!
1) OBTAIN THE CD-ROM VERSION OF YOUR BACKUP/RESTORE PROGRAM.
If you purchase your backup/restore software and have it delivered via electronic download, be sure to purchase the CD-ROM version as well.
You received your backup software via download and you back it up. If your hard drive crashes, you'll need to reinstall the backup/restore program. Your hard drive problem is corrected and you are ready to restore your backed up data. But wait, you don't have a program to read your backed up files, because it's ON THE BACKUP DISK!
Okay, so you contact the software program vendor and request a new download. All they want is info off the original purchase invoice, which was sent via email, which you stored in your email folder.
But wait, it's now gone as you forgot to backup your email folders or better yet it's on your backup disk. Which you can't get at because you don't have the backup software because it was downloaded and it's backed up on your backup disk!
If you have the CD-ROM version you can re-install your backup program and then restore your backed up files from the backup disks.
2) USE READ/WRITEABLE CD-ROM'S If you want to back up your data onto CD-ROM, use Read/Writeable CD's. That way you can reuse them over and over again.
3) HAVE TWICE THE AMOUNT OF BACKUP MEDIA Create your first backup. Use new disks when creating the next version. Don't reuse the first version. When version 2 is finished and the data is verified, then reuse the disks from version 1 for version 3. Reuse version 2 disks for version 4 and so on.
If you reused the same disks over and over, and a problem occurred while backing up the data, you'll lose any data previously recorded on them.
4) OFFSITE STORAGE
You might want to consider off-site storage (like a safety deposit box) for your disks or at least a fireproof safe in your home. It all depends on the value of the backed up data and whether it warrants off-site or fireproof storage. It's your risk.
5) DON'T RELY ON YOUR WEBHOST TO HAVE BACKED UP YOUR WEBSITE
It may not be a feature they support. Most of them do provide some sort of backup support but they may only backup and restore the server (not individual websites) files when it has problems.
That doesn't help you when your PC or MAC crashes and you don't have your website files backed up. You probably won't get any help from your hosting provider.
6) KEEP A VERSION OF YOUR SUBSCRIBER LIST Generally I would suggest that you don't rely on someone else to backup your list. But if you are using a provider for your mail lists, make sure they can provide daily backup/restore services.
You need your lists protected, it's your business.
If you decide to backup your lists, export them into an electronic format. Then back up that file. It will be much easier to reload the list if it is done electronically.
Make sure you export your list into a format that is supported by your mailing list or autoresponder provider. That way if you need to import your list back to your provider you can easily do it since it's in a format compatible with them.
7) KEEP A VERSION OF YOUR CUSTOMER INFO Same as #6.
8) VERIFY THE BACKUP DISKS This is extremely important. Once the backup is finished the next step is to verify the files. Most backup programs have this feature. This means the program will re-read all disks making sure all of the files can be read from the disk. If they can't you have to figure out why and possibly backup that file again.
If you don't verify your files they may be unreadable and won't be of any value if they are needed in case of a disk crash.
9) PAPER INFORMATION
If you receive paper information (invoices, bank statements, etc) you can scan them creating electronic documents which can then be backed up onto your backup media.
Rick Adams is editor/webmaster of The Road To Success Newsletter and The Road To Internet Success website. Subscribe by sending a blank email to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the website at http://www.the-road-to-success.com
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