Have you backed up your computer lately?

Last weekend I had the misfortune of having something on the motherboard of my computer malfunction.  In less than the blink of an eye I had absolutely no access to my hard drive – a totally dead compute that wouldn’t even begin to boot.

Fortunately, I have an external USB drive that I purchased a few years ago and use to back up important files on my computer’s internal drive and to store photos on.  However, how recently had I back things up? What files had I not backed up that I realized now were crucial to running my business and operating in the modern digital world?  I started coming up with a list of files I wanted to make sure I had:

Quickbooks file – This is automatically back up weekly so at worst I’d have a week of data to reenter.

Outlook email folder – These I back up occasionally. Maybe 6 months ago.

My website files – These are all on a server off site so they are all backed up somewhere – EXCEPT the templates I created that the site is based on.  These are not on the server.  I had made some very recent changes to my templates so these were not backed up but i do have the older versions.

FTP login information – I have login and password information for a number of website.  This would be stored in my email files and therefore is backed up but not easily accessible.

Assembly instructions – I have a number of word files that are assembly instructions for beds I sell.  I have a rush job for a bed that needs to ship Monday (computer died Sunday).  I think I have this files stored on Google documents which I was trying out a couple of years ago so I’ll have easy access to this from my wife’s computer.

CAD files (drawings) – These are all backed up EXCEPT that 3D sleigh bed drawing I spent all day working on a few weeks ago.

Passwords to various websites – These are mostly backed up with my email files but again access to these will be difficult without a new computer to load the outlook backed up files to. For less important sites these are often the same or similar.  But some financial sites require hard to remember passwords and require they be changed on a regular basis.

So all in all I’m pretty well backed up but even so it will be a major inconvenience to get a new computer and restore everything. 

As it turned out I was able to come up with a better solution.  I had purchased my computer (in late 2003) at about the same time I bought my son a computer for school.  He no longer used his computer as he got a laptop about a year ago.  I was able to swap my hard drive with his and get back up and running without any loss of data. 

I have since backed up everything I need so it’s up to date and created a word document with all necessary FTP and other login info.  This is backed up on my external drive AND printed out.  I have also ordered a new computer and will slowly get that one set up with what I need on it.   This is much more preferable than replacing my computer after it dies.

Have you backed up your computer lately?  What information would you not be able to operate without?  I suggest you start working on your list today.  As they say “It’s not a matter of if you’ll need your computer backed up, it’s a matter of when.”

Richard Bissell builds Shaker furniture in Putney, VT


3 thoughts on “Have you backed up your computer lately?

  1. Timothy Clark

    I know I 'll jinx myself if I say this but, you should think about a mac.
    I have had 5 over the last 10 years or so and never lost anything. Still , i do some backing up. Should do more.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Daniel Hoviss

    What I do is keep a cloned copy (updated regularly) so that if I do have a hard drive crash or get hit with a virus, I can swap drives and be up an drunning in minutes.

    If you really rely on a PC, then you should also consider RAID arrays, that provide two or more mirrored drives, where any drive can fail, and you would still be able to boot and run the OS. – Daniel

  3. Daniel

    Even MAC's have hard drives. All hard drives die
    because they spin and produce heat. You should think about a clone, or using the MAC backup Time Machine.


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