The ghost of future hard drive failure reminds you to back up your data
— Hannah A. Brazeau
But what I mostly want to discuss are two other kinds of backups you may need.
Backups of important paper documents
Some documents you might keep tucked away in a safe deposit box or a home safe, but there are also important papers that you might use regularly and need to keep close at hand. And those papers are susceptible to being lost or damaged.
Author Susan Orlean wrote about the following problem:
Had a small flood in my office. Some handwritten notes are now abstract watercolors. Fortunately I’d typed them up, but yikes.
I accidentally left my little book in my shirt pocket and it got washed and dried but good. My schedules were all in little bitty pieces.
Do you have any similar papers, where losing them would be a significant problem? One way to give yourself a backup for such papers would be to take photos of the important pages or to scan them, perhaps with a scanner app on your smartphone.
Backups for critical technology
Vince Dixon wrote for Eater about a problem that happened last May:
A Square service outage … lasting roughly two hours forced restaurants, coffee shops, and food carts around the country to turn away customers and lose sales, bringing into question whether relying solely on new technology and software to make business transactions is a good idea.
Nate Snell, the owner of one such business, learned his lesson:
He has emergency plans for greasy spills and fires, but was caught off guard by the technical glitch. “I don’t think we realized that the entire Square system nationwide would go down,” Snell says. “I immediately got on Amazon and ordered an old-fashioned [credit card] swiper.”
While this type of contingency planning is critical for businesses, it might also apply beyond the typical business environment.
Do you have any technology you use all the time that could cause a significant problem if it malfunctioned or became unavailable? I rely on my computer and its internet connection for a few things — sometimes a smart phone isn’t enough — and I once lost that connection for a couple days when someone drove into and destroyed a major piece of phone company equipment. Fortunately, my backup plan was as simple as taking my laptop to a local coffee shop — and making regular food and beverage purchases to compensate for using its WiFi. But if I had a desktop computer rather than a laptop, finding a backup solution would have been much harder.
If you rely on a mapping program to provide driving instructions, what would you do if that service went down halfway though your drive? Would you have another way to find your destination?
If you assume any technology might fail at any time, and then plan for working around any significant problems that could cause, you may save yourself some panicked moments in the future.