I was in Manhattan on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I managed to be one of the first people to leave the island around 2pm, and I was glad to go. I could see the towers from the street near my office. People crying openly, smoke in the sky, and a real sense that there might be another attack that day. Days later I spent time in Union Square, the unofficial memorial, watching people cry, pray, and reading the missing person flyers that permeate the city. Ive been changed by the experience. Thankfully everyone I know is safe.
As much as I really didnt want to write a column this month, I was persuaded by our honorable president to find some time to write a column. What on earth could I write about that would make a difference? That anyone would bother to read?
After much thought, I decided to write about something a lot of businesses in this country are considering because of the complete destruction of the World Trade Center: disaster recovery. Although usually something only businesses worry about, you can create a personal disaster recovery plan.
Although extremely rare, horrible things do happen. Hurricanes, fire, tornados, theft, and even terrorists can completely wipe out a business overnight. It also happens to people. Everyone knows somebody displaced in a fire, flood or other disaster. What you dont see on the news is people realizing their backups didnt work, or they have lost key people with information they took with them. Id like to give you a few points to think about so you can possibly avoid additional loss in case of disaster.
Backups. I cant say enough about backups. How many people do them? How many do them regularly? Even worse - how many have tested their backups? I bet its a smaller percentage than we think. Backups should be done weekly, or if the data youre working with is critical, daily. There are two types of backups, full (complete) and incremental (only the changes since the last backup are archived).
There are many ways to do backups. You can copy important data to a floppy or zip disk, burn the data onto a CDR, copy the files onto disk space on another computer on your network (I do this a lot), or even put your files on space you rent on the Internet. You can also purchase a dedicated tape backup. Think about how critical the files youre backing up are, and then evaluate the different techniques, and select the backup thats right for you. Dont forget to take a copy of the backup offsite - a friends house or even leave a copy in your desk at work.
I know several couples that have only one person handle the finances. The other person sometimes doesnt even know where the checkbook is. This is probably very common, but can be a disaster if something happens to the bookkeeper. If youre the person, write up directions on how the bills are paid, where the finances are (banks, stocks, etc), and leave the secret codes on a sheet in your safety deposit box. Then show this to your partner, and explain everything in detail. If youre not the bookkeeper, ask your partner about this stuff, and take good notes.
You have certain information in your head that only you know. If something happened to you, would your partner need this information? Does your partner have information you need? Spend some time with your partner and write down these things.
Most businesses create a disaster recovery plan. They try and figure out every possible disaster, and what they could do to be up and running in a few days. Some go so far as to have another "clone" of their office in another county or state, ready to go if they have to relocated their employees. They even have backups shipped to the other office, ready to be up and running as if nothing happened.
What would you do if your house burned down? Take a moment and think about it. Where would you go? How would you get up and running? Do you have a will? Think about your insurance - do you have good personal insurance? Do you have renters insurance or homeowners? If you have a home-based business is your inventory and equipment covered? Call your insurance agent and get the coverage you need.
Write down your thoughts and ideas and turn it into a contingency plan. If something horrible does happen, at least youll be ready for it.
Im sorry about the tone of the column this month, but I couldnt write anything light or humorous. If anything, I hope you think about how you can make things a bit easier to take if youre caught up in a bad situation.
|Mike is a DACS member who is still upset he quit the Boy Scouts before he made Eagle. You can contact him by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.|