Monday, October 29, 2007

Life Challenges Can Create Havoc With Your Business: Accessing And Protecting Data During A Crisis

How prepared are you for a crisis?

Unexpected life challenges occur in many categories:

  1. Fires
  2. Floods
  3. Earthquakes
  4. Burglary
  5. Accidents
  6. Illness
  7. Technology Failure
With the recent California fires and previous disasters throughout the world, it reminds me of just how vulnerable we are to environmental crises . These emergency circumstances not only affect our personal safety and our homes, but can also have devastating effects on our businesses.

One particular area of concern is loss of data for our business. Think of how it would be if you lost everything on your hard drive. Some of you may have already had this experience if your computer hard drive failed. If you did not have backup, you had a lot of pieces together to do of not only documents, but also contact information and perhaps an online calendar.

A few years ago I had the experience of my Outlook crashing due to too much data saved on the program. Something I didn't know about Outlook 2000 is that it has a limit of how much data it can hold. I had all my contacts, email, and calendar on Outlook without any backup. I felt paralyzed to do anything with my business. I was able to view current incoming mail on the web email available with my server, but could not view any past emails.

Fortunately, I was able to access the data with the help of their technical support team. I immediately went out to purchase a PDA so that I would be able to sync all my information from the computer to the handheld scheduling device. I also signed up with an online backup system so that all of my files would be backed up on a daily basis.

What about documents that you may have in hard copy or on your computer hard drive? Essential documents that you have only in hard copy should be scanned and saved. Having them only on your hard drive is not secure enough. You can have these available to you even if your computer crashes, is stolen, burned, flooded, etc. without even using a portable flash storage device that could also not be available.

Using Google Photo or one of the many photo storage sites, you can upload the digital files of your scanned documents for no cost. These can be accessed from any computer connected to the internet.

You can upload web pages, word, excel, power point, and text documents to Google Documents. You can set these so anyone can access and edit or keep them private. As a precautionary measure I've uploaded all of my web pages to the documents. There is also a feature that will update your document anytime you change something on your website. Pretty cool!
Photos are not shown on the pages, however. You'll need to save these separately to Google Photo.

I like using Google mail for most of my correspondence so that I have access to all my current and past email. There is no limit to their storage size and they have an easy search tool to find any mail you need for reference. Service has no charge and if seeing Google ads next to your email doesn't bother you, it is a good choice. I often forward mail from my Outlook email account to Gmail so I have it available for reference no matter what.

Finally, for financial records, Quick Books' online option is a great way to have access to all of this information no matter where you are. There is a charge for this after your initial trial period. It also makes it possible for a virtual assistant or bookkeeper to have access to do work for you.

Putting some thought into all the aspects of your business that would be affected in a crisis situation can save you lots of frustration and money. Time and money for some of these services put into these preparations is a great investment toward your Healthy Bottom Line.

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