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Averting Disaster

Picture this...

You wake up in the morning to find that your computer is dead. You try all the recovery methods in your arsenal but nothing works. After a trip to your local computer shop, you learn that all the data on your hard drive is wiped out and unrecoverable.

Would this hurt your online business dramatically? Would your income stop as a result?

Most small and home based businesses are totally unprepared for this and believe it or not, it CAN happen to you.

Think of it this way; every hard drive ever made WILL fail someday. It's just a matter of time. Yours could get wiped out by a nasty virus tomorrow, or it could have a mechanical failure five years from now. If you're lucky (and wise) you'll upgrade every few years and may never have to deal with a crash. But most computer owners suffer a crash at one time or another. And it happens more often than you may think. Not a week goes by that I don't hear from an online marketer looking for an old software password or affiliate code. Nearly every one of them a victim of a crash.

Last year it happened to me. Luckily, my hard drive suffered a slow death, and I was able to get my precious data over to my new computer. But I learned a lesson. I was not nearly as prepared as I should have been. And if you're busy like me, you probably never find the time to do regular backups either.

That's why I put together this 7 step plan you MUST follow. Maybe some day you'll thank me!


1. Decide what to backup

Don't worry about backing up "everything" on your computer, including operating system.

What's that? Don't backup everything? That's right. I've heard too many stories about folks who've purchased elaborate backup systems only to learn that recovering from a complete failure is not as simple as they had expected. Plus, backing up everything can take lots of resources and disks, depending on your system.

If you DO plan to back up your entire system, make sure you test your crash recovery strategy completely, as if you'd had a real crash.

A better strategy, and the one I use, is to make a list of your crucial files and back them up daily or at least weekly. The list should include a local copy of your website, your email archives (mbx and toc files if you use Eudora), crucial documents and your customer database. In the event of a crash, most of these items can simply be copied back into a new hard drive with ease.


2. Keep it simple!

I've tried lots of different backup solutions including tape drives and other storage devices. I've found that the best and most reliable methods are the simplest.

For this reason I suggest you backup to removable media such as a Zip disk, Jaz, SuperDisk, or CD-R/RW. If you have any of these in your computer then use it for your backups. If your system does not contain one of these, you can get an external version and use that.


3. Select a Backup Utility

There are lots of programs available for backing up data. I tried a few and recommend ONLY programs that will automate your backups completely. To save you time trying different programs, here are my own findings...

Since I prefer to auto-backup only selected files, the easiest program for me was Second Copy 2000, available for Windows 95/98/NT4/2000.

Second Copy 2000 www.secondcopy.com lets me back up my important files from my hard drive to another location automatically, and it keeps my backups current.

Another good program I tried was Retrospect Backup software www.betterbackup.com. This one is available for both Windows and Mac, and in 4 editions: Express, Desktop, Workgroup and Server. I had originally planned to use their Express version but found that Second Copy 2000 was easier to configure for my basic needs. But if you plan to do full system backups or if you run a Mac, Retrospect is a solid choice.


4. Set up your automatic backups!

This is the key step. While making a commitment to doing regular backups is noble, actually PERFORMING them is what counts. And the best way to do that is to use a program that will automate the task. You set it up one time and it does backups for you at regular intervals.

Using Second Copy 2000, I set up a "new profile" using the "custom set up" option, so I could select the exact files to be backed up. Then I selected my Zip drive for the backup destination and Saturday night as the backup time. Lastly I selected the "compression mode" so I can get lots of files onto my 100 meg Zip disk. That's it!

Each Monday morning I take the disk out, label it and replace it with a fresh one. I just alternate disks each week so I don't spend a fortune on Zip disks, and I always have one offsite.

Now I no longer fear a crash. And that's important when you have a 3 year old who likes to experiment with what can fit into a floppy drive. (Incidentally, a half-dollar will make it in there if it goes in sideways.)


5. Consider an online service

If you do not have the storage device such as a Zip disk, SuperDisk, Jaz, or CD-R/RW to start doing regular backups right away, consider utilizing an online backup service. One company that offer this service, @Backup offers automatic backup of up to 500 meg of data for a yearly fee.


6. Keep an off-site backup

You should keep a backup disk away from your computer or even outside the home. If you have a fire, flood or break- in, you'll be able to replace the computer and simply copy your crucial data to the new one. Remember, insurance will pay for the computer in most cases, but you can't put a price on the data or the hours spent creating it.


7. Set up automated income streams, INDEPENDENT of every day work.

This is a great way to guarantee that checks come every month, regardless of whether you or your computer are working.

I've long been a proponent of setting up automated income streams. Over the years I've joined a handful of affiliate programs that pay residual income. This income is great to hold you over should you or your computer stop working for any length of time. See samples for a few "recurring income" programs that I recommend.


Tips by Jim Daniels, owner of http://www.bizweb2000.com. Did you like this tip? Then you'll love Jim's book that has helped thousands of small business owners get started online. Get it at http://www.bizweb2000.com/insider.htm and get a free bonus for ordering today!



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