Thursday, August 25, 2011

Are your files saved in another geographic region? Prepare for disaster before it hits

Are all your important work and personal data files saved somewhere else? No not a flash drive.  In another geographic region of the country?

Several years ago I developed a strong, recurring interest in pursuing the concept of disaster continuity.  Continuity is defined by as "the state or quality of being continuous."  Not stopping, no interruption of service, no loss of data. 

Apartment building in S. Miami,
FL after Hurricane Andrew

In public safety there are many redundant loops to ensure continuity of services, primary locations and back up locations.  Although, few have thought to ensure that they have a redundant back up out of state or in another geographic region.   However, how many of us have taken this concept on to our personal lives?

I’ve been watching the news as many parts of the U.S. are preparing for Hurricane Irene and while there are a great many of excellent preparedness plans (and I hope everyone who needs to are making plans and preparing now for a strong storm!)  Yet, I wonder if there are aspects that we don’t think about carrying over into our personal lives. 
There are companies dedicated to performing as remote back up servers in case a disaster strikes the headquarters where the primary servers are located.  Data cannot be lost and there are efforts in public safety and in the business world to ensure that information is backed up.  However, how many of us take the time to ensure that there are redundant copies of our critical information saved in another geographic region?

Inside of an apartment from above building in
S. Miami, FL following  Hurricane Andrew

At first many of you are going to think, well I back up everything onto a flash drive so I’m ok.  This is not intended to be doom and gloom but in reality, in a disaster if your home is destroyed, your computer and your flash drives are likely to also be destroyed. 
I started thinking of disaster continuity of service in terms of my employment, yet one hurricane season I realized, my mostly completed training manual that I had been developing was on my home computer.  There was no back up other than flash drives. Immediately, I zapped a copy of my work via email to a very trusted family member, my father in that case, who lived in a different state.  Redundancy to guarantee that the work that I had slaved over for hours, weeks and months was in a secure location off site. 
Building destroyed following Hurricane Andrew
How many of you have training manuals or manuscripts saved on your computer and flash drive and no where else?  Do you have a trusted family member in another state that could “hold” your work for you?  If you are an established author perhaps your agent would be a “holding” site for you, if they are in a different geographic region.

Photographs or scanned copies of important documents can also be emailed to trusted individual so that you can access them in the future.  Certainly, preparing in advance you could have all the documents, photographs, work product sent out in the mail on a CD.  Copies of birth certificates, social security cards, passports, insurance policies are all important to be saved and could be sent to someone in advance.

Being forced to start long term work projects all over again would be tragic.  I know that I would be devastated to lose that much work. This is a small step, but one that is often overlooked until it is too late your information is lost.

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