#WeddingPreneurs: How to protect your data from disaster
As I mentioned in my blog post last week, September is National Preparedness Month. You probably also watched my WeddingPreneurs Lounge broadcast on Periscope last Wednesday where we talked about ways to be prepared in case of a disaster or an emergency.
Today I’ll share some practical tips on how to protect your data including important documents for your business (and you can follow the same tips for your own personal and household records). I know you might be thinking: “I know exactly what I need to do to be prepared” however, when I talk with colleagues, many of them tell me: “Yeah, I should have a plan in place and prepare, but I don’t have the time now. I’ll think about it next week, next month.” Well, things can happen at any time so this should be a priority in your business. So, here’s a quick refresher!
Have a plan in place
You should have a plan for any type of disaster or emergency – This could be a fire, an earthquake that causes furniture and shelving to fall, or a flood that can damage paper documents. Of course, if you belong to the paperless movement like me you shouldn’t have a lot of paper documents to save or back up since you have everything saved on your computer. But, maybe you have original copies of important records that you need to take care of. A safety box at your local bank, for instance, could be a good solution. Depending on what might affect your geographical area, you should plan accordingly.
Know what’s most important and where it is
Sometimes we can’t be prepared for disasters. Earthquakes, for instance, happen unexpectedly and we might not be ready to gather what’s important for us at the office. When we’re in that situation we find ourselves having to choose in just a second what we should save: our computer or our file cabinets, or our flash drives, or…? We’re in the middle of a disaster and we don’t know what to do, besides keeping ourselves out of danger. Right?
For this reason, you must have a preparedness plan when it comes to your data. Focus on what type of data is most important and know where it’s located in your office or studio, or your house. That way, if you only have a few seconds to leave, you can easily gather what you need.
A quick example: if you create vision boards with visuals, ribbon and linen swatches, and other beautiful details, those cannot be saved electronically. You can save a digital copy but 3D vision boards are totally different from a flat image: they amplify the emotions because you add different elements: touch, feel, and sometimes smell. Yes, I added a real rose to a vision board once and it smelled fabulous! The bride was ecstatic about the finished result!
What should you do? Depending on the size of your vision boards, make sure they’re not stored in areas at risk. Move them away from windows in case of heavy wind, or from basements if you expect a flood. Covering them with plastic sheeting would be a good solution, or you could even save them in your refrigerator or dishwasher or washing machine (any of these is said to be an ideal safe in case of floods).
There’s a free app available called ERS: Emergency Response and Salvage. It essentially provides salvage and recovery tips for different items: photographs, books and documents, paintings, electronic records, textiles, furniture, and more. And it gives you step-by-step instructions on how to treat these damaged items in order to bring them back to life. This can be a useful tool when it comes to family heirlooms, not only for you but also for your clients who would like to use handkerchiefs or jewels or special trinket boxes from grandparents at the wedding. Tell them how they can save them from natural disasters.
Back up everything
Thanks to technology, today we can have a safe plan for our business documents. How? Scanning them and saving them digitally. That way, if the original copy is damaged, we still have a digital one that can still be accessed. Keep in mind that this should be done by all of us as business owners, not only when we expect a disaster. Many professionals don’t do anything to protect their data and, when their computer crashes, or it’s infected by a virus, they’re lost. Have you ever experience this? Isn’t it a terrible experience? So, prevention is better than the cure in this case!
There are different options for this – You can save them:
- On a flash drive
- On an external hard drive
- In the cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and others) which is the safest option
Be careful about 1 and 2, though: Flash drives or external hard drives can be subject to damage if you experience a fire or a flood, or even an earthquake.
If you live in an area that is at risk for any of these, you can buy file cabinets that are specifically fire-resistant or water-resistant, and store your flash drives or external hard drives in there.
Now, saving your files is a good thing however, you should back up the files in your computer on a regular basis. Daily is preferred in order to have everything up to date. My suggestion is to subscribe to an automated back-up system such as Carbonite (starting at $59.99 / year for one computer) which provides unlimited storage for all of your documents, photos, audio and video files. When you use services like Carbonite the backup is done automatically and continuously for you so you don’t have to worry about it by setting reminders. If something happens, all of your data will still be available and you can access it from any computer by logging into your account on the Carbonite website.
Carbonite also has a mobile app for IOS and Android so you can easily access / recover your files on your mobile devices.
Another automatic backup service is SugarSync (starting at $7.49 / month for 100GB). The last time I checked Sugar Sync I noticed that it only provides backup up to 500 GB while Carbonite offers unlimited storage. On the other hand, Sugar Sync offers backup service on all of your computers and mobile devices at no extra charge, while Carbonite charges you extra for more computers or devices. Choose the option that best fits your needs.
Smart tip: Don’t just focus on your main computer (desktop at the office, for instance). You might have a phone, a tablet, and a laptop, so make sure that files and information stored in all of your devices are safe and backed up.
Test the recovery process
Once you found the best way to back up your important data, it’s a good idea to test how you will recover everything in case you need access to files, and how quickly. Do you know if the system is working, and how do you recover lost files? You can perform tests weekly or monthly and, if you have associates or employees working with you, make sure you involve them so they know how to proceed in case of emergency. Make sure the recovery is quick and smooth: how could you coordinate a wedding two days after your office floods? You must have access to your client’s file in a few hours, time is of essence here!
Don’t stop the business
If you have an online store, you will need to make sure that everything still keeps running in case of an emergency where you might experience downtime. Your store should stay open no matter what happens in your city or in your office.
~~~ LEAVE A COMMENT ~~~ What is your go-to plan for disasters? Share with us!
Holistic Precision Life Coach, Brain Wellness Coach, and Life-Work Balance Strategist for busy professionals. I blend well-being principles with epigenetics, neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness techniques to implement effective behavior changes.