Monday, October 1, 2007

Have a BACKUP Plan: Thoughts on Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery

From Liana's Bananas Blog :

As you may have guessed from the post below... my "baby" (NO, I don't actually have kids thus I must refer to my precious Powerbooks as such instead) crashed/died/bit-the-dust today. This computer was my "workhorse" from 2005-early 2007 and I still use it as my main file/email computer.

The Good News:

- We are OCD about backing up all client files so NONE were lost in this crash. We still have back-ups from this weekend's wedding, though not the edit.
- We'd done a COMPLETE backup of the computer as of August 29th and various other back ups that happen regularly overnight, every night

The Bad News:

- The Past 72 hours worth of work (Wedding edit from this weekend, complete library/favorites selection of 2007 images, and various documents may or may not be recoverable. We're slowly trying to recover these files by transfering them over to another computer. We may have to go through the wedding from this weekend again. But thanks to our Crazy Simple Workflow... only hrs were lost instead of days.
- This computer was "born" in 2005 and some of the applications were transfered from a now-retired G4 TITANIUM powerbook from 2001... needless to say, we'll loose a lot of grandfathered applications when the computer gets wiped out and reformatted.

The Ironic:

- I was out dropping off two back-up hard drives at a safety-deposit box at the bank when the crash happened. Go figure!

Lesson Learned:

- Just Like Tires: Computers will fail, directories will corrupt, and hard drives WILL fail. They are like tires... will wear out over time... you can count on that!

- Plan for IT: When I worked in Corporate America I spent my first year there helping out people that put together Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery programs for a living (for big companies). They taught me a few key things like the importance of having a full plan for recovering your important files and programs ... so if a computer crashes or the whole office goes up in flames today, we can be back in business in a few days.

- Learn from others before it happens to YOU!: Nothing like this has happened to me until now... and I knew it was a matter of time... so I'm glad I took these steps BEFORE vs AFTER a crash happens.

I have an appointment with a Mac Genius tomorrow afternoon (oh yes, that AppleCare comes in handy here!) and will probably be up half the night pulling as many key files off the HD as possible. Sarah will be able to continue our work on the other two computers so all will be okay... just a few days behind....


Step 1: Imagine the WORST possible scenario.

Your office goes up in flames. All your files, equipment.... GONE.

Step 2: Make a LIST of what you need to be back in Biz.
Okay, you only need to be depressed for a millisecond... so your biz is up in flames... what would you need in order to get up and running again? What equipment (computers, cameras, etc), software (ie LOTS of expensive Adobe stuff) and files (client images, tax info & receipts, client communications, agreements, legal forms, etc) would you need to be up and running again in 24-72 hours?

Step 3: Insure the obvious.
Business insurance, equipment insurance, legal protection. If you're a pro photographer you should have ALL of the above. A GREAT place to start is by joining Professional Photographers of America. If you shoot even ONE event per year, their Indemnification Coverage is priceless. I know people personally who's biz has been saved by it. PPA will also be able to point you in the right direction for all sorts of insurance and protection. Pay attention to what is covered and not covered... if your equipment is stolen or destroyed, will you be covered to be able to buy new equipment/get it fixed right away?

Step 4: Invest in extended service/warranties/protection plans.
I ALWAYS get the warranty with new lenses/camera bodies. I've had to use them MULTIPLE times already and it's so nice to not have to fork out the $$ for replacements when they'll be repaired under the warranty. I also have the AppleCare plan for my computers... they've repaired hard drives, and done Thousands of $$s in parts and labor for me thus far in my 7-8 years as a Mac user. A $100+ upfront sure beats 1,000 later.

Step 5: Get your files OFF your hard drives, backed up multiple times in multiple ways. I have FOUR copies of all of my client files. We back up to disk TWICE - one disk goes Pictage... which is backed up FOREVER! The other disk we keep in the office to burn a copy for clients if they purchase it after everything has been ordered. We also back up to TWO different external hard drives. Lacie is the hard drive of choice.... been using them for years! Essentially, we have two identical eternal hard drives - one stays in the office and one goes off site (to a safety deposit box at the bank). We also wait to format the CF cards until Pictage receives the disk and everything is backed up. The important thing is to have copies in different places in different forms so if one fails, then another fails... then there are still backups!

Step 6: Don't forget your operating files! It's easy to remember to back up client files... what about email, calendars, contacts, agreements, contracts, legal docs, and other important stuff?? Well, you can back them up to disk & external hard drive (like above).... but you use these files a lot and may forget to do that regularly. So make time to do the above but also utilize some great programs that keep it simple! Here's where having and using a .MAC account comes in handy! With a little programing, it can all be done without you having to think about it! Every night, every computer connects to our .MAC account online and syncs up all of the information :) Not only is it safe online backed up, but it's in-sync too! Super cool! There are also tons of external applications you can use to back up other documents and programs such as iBackup and SilverKeeper. I'm sure I'm missing TONS of great programs too so if you use a great one post it up here!

Step 7: Get a Safety Deposit Box and make an Emergency Kit.
Back-up drives, start-up disks, application disks, serial numbers, warranties, emergency cash fund, etc... put it all in one place with instructions, passwords, etc it's there if/when you need it!

Pheww... makes me exhausted just thinking of it! But with a little planning ahead of time, you'll save a lot of money and headaches later!

1 comment:

Eric said...

What a great post Liana!

As a travelling wedding photographer, going GREEN was the best thing I could have done.

My biz is almost totally paperless. Everything is WEB based. Client files are on a Mac account, images are backed up to Photoshelter.

Even my calendar and address book are accessable from everywhere in the world.

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