If You Lost All Your Data…

Photo by from1993
Photo by from1993

“If You Lost All Your Work” over at LifeHack asks the important question…what would you do if you lost your computer due to system malfunction or theft?

What would happen if you lost your productivity system?

While it’s an important question, it got me thinking. What would happen if I lost my productivity system? It’s happened before. In fact, the week I planned to launch the initial version of this blog, my PDA crashed completely. I was two weeks without PDA, and while I could access most things from my desktop, I couldn’t get everything. Nor could I get everything back, because the crash fried the card it was backed up to.

Paper, electronic…all at risk

You may be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have that problem, because I don’t use a PDA.” The sad truth is that every productivity system is at risk for catastrophic failure.

Paper systems can be lost, stolen, spilled on, decimated by animals or burnt. Web-based systems can be lost due to server failures or lack of Internet connection. PC systems can also be affected in the same way. PDAs can be broken or stolen

Where is your fail-safe?

The question becomes how will you safeguard your information? There are numerous ways to do this depending on how you implement it. The common factor in a fail-safe is redundancy. That means you store a copy of your information away from your primary usage of it. When I used a PC-based system, my addresses and calendar were printed out, and backups of the hard drive stored off site. Web-based systems can be backed up on a PC somewhere. My PDA has information printed out, plus backed up to a card that is stored away from the device. (That was a hard lesson to learn, but I learned it).

What if I don’t have a backup and I lose the system?

This is a worst-case scenario, but it involves thinking about how quickly you can get the information back again. You must replace your system, set it up again, and get the information back.

Replacing the system might mean upgrades to equipment, rendering software unusable; or it might mean switching to a new service that doesn’t accept proprietary data formats. Any way you slice it, you are going to have some work to do.

The thing to think about is how would you move information? Is your information in a format that will move easily? Do you have access to the information through another means? What would happen if you couldn’t easily replace your binder/PDA/PC/web service? Consider these well.

Tomorrow…How to back up your Palm system

Tomorrow I am going to address specific ways to back up your Palm system to help in case of a catastrophic failure. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Hotsync will do it for you!