Having a computer backup plan is an important part of your telework strategy. Most people don’t consider backing up their files until it’s too late. In addition to providing you with protection from viruses and hard drive failures, a backup plan can also help you go back in time to access lost, deleted or archived information.
“All over the U.S., businesses are promoting telework to help minimize traffic, reduce pollution, cut real estate costs, recruit and retain quality employees, and provide superior in-country customer service,” said Chuck Wilsker, President & CEO of The Telework Coalition. “I have seen first hand the tremendous loss of time and money that can occur from hard drive failures and software issues. However, research and anecdotal evidence has shown us that the backup of data is sorely deficient, when done, does not occur frequently, and often retains only partial data. A fail-safe online backup solution is insurance that every teleworker or company with teleworkers must have.”
Here are some ideas to consider when devising your backup plan:
- Assess risk. A backup plan is simply a way of controlling risk. Ask yourself how many days worth of information could you afford to lose? What about if your home office burned down or was burglarized? The answers to these questions will help you decide how often you should do a backup, and where you should store them.
- Decide what to backup. Backing up just your data and not your software applications is fine as long as you have all the original CDs for your software and you are prepared to spend the time required to complete numerous software installs. A complete backup of your hard disk makes restoring your system much easier although the time and cost to complete regular backups increases.
- Save your data to a single location on your PC. Backing up your data is made easier if you keep your documents, spreadsheets, accounting files, e-mails and contacts lists in a single folder on your computer.
- Use automatic backup copies. Many applications such as Microsoft Word can be configured to automatically save a backup copy each time you save a document. The backup copy provides you with a previously saved copy, so you have the current saved information in the original document and the information saved prior to that in the backup copy.
- Save files using versioning. While working on an important documents or spreadsheets create multiple versions of the file by adding a version number to the end of the file name. So that finances_v1.xls gets stored as finances_v2.xls the next time you save the document. That way you will be able to go back in time to a pervious version should the need arise.
- Use recordable media. Almost all rewriteable CD and DVD drives come with software to help you transfer files from your computer to a disk. Software such as Nero goes beyond simple file copies and help you implement a backup plan that includes incremental backups. Remember that DVD drives can store nearly seven times as much data on a rewriteable DVD disk than on a CD.
- Install a second hard drive. Adding a second hard drive to your system can make complete system backups much easier. External hard drives from companies such as Maxtor or Iomega connect to your PC using USB or FireWire/1394/i.LINK and include backup software. If you already have a second hard drive consider using Symantec’s Norton Ghost and Acronis’ True Image.
- Conider using an online backup service that allows computer users to routinely backup and recover important data from their office workstations, laptops and/or LAN servers using a standard, secure Internet connection. There are a number of free and paid services available and you can even hack your Google email account and use it for remote storage.