Last night, my fancy solid state hard drive, which I’ve bragged about before, died. But I was able to get running almost immediately because I had a backup plan that can work for A4A readers. Here’s my backup story.
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First, understand that I love writing daily, and not having access to my computer is unnatural. I’m on the computer writing, researching, and making VOIP phone calls eight or 10 hours a day, five days a week. My backup plan is expensive but simple, and it worked well today.
I buy the same overpriced Sony laptop
every couple of years. My current model is the Sony VGN-Z. The Z Series is Sony’s ultraportable desktop-replacement. It costs about $3500, with the three-year service plan, one of the fastest processors available, l8GB of RAM, taxes, and Microsoft Office Professional. The last two Z Series machines came with solid state drives (SSD), which is the key to the computer’s speed.
Conventional drives spin to find your information. The motor doing the spinning makes heat, and spinning means parts are subject to mechanical failure. In contrast, an SSD is like flash memory. It has no moving parts. But it’s not just faster but more reliable. Of course, it was one of those SSDs that last night failed.
Within minutes, however, I was up and running because, in addition to backing up my computer, I keep a backup computer in my kitchen at home. My backup computer is the machine I used previous to my current laptop. This computer is used by my family to look up movies or do Internet searches, but it is connected by a Virtual Private Network to our office and Microsoft Outlook Exchange Server.
When my hard drive failed last night, I grabbed that laptop from its docking station in my kitchen and I was logged into my company network using my Windows user name and password. I was checking my email within minutes.
To be sure, I did not have immediate access to my documents. But that was no big deal. What was most important was checking my email and getting on the Web.
The one glitch I ran into was with my passwords. But that was my fault. I’ve used Roboform for password management for over a decade, but LastPass also deserves consideration. The way LastPass conducted itself after a security scare
last May inspires confidence in the company. LastPass disclosed a possible
problem to protect its users.
If you are not using a password management program, then you want to start ASAP. It will let you have different passwords for email, document management, banking, brokerage, and any other secure system requiring login. So if someone hacks into your bank account, they can’t access your other apps because they all have different passwords. Moreover, the password manager app can generate random strings of 12-character passwords, which tests show can take decades to hack.
But best of all, with the password management software, you only need to remember one password. You use one password to access all of your passwords. In addition, these apps auto-fill your password and can be saved as links, and they store and auto-fill your credit cards and ID at merchant websites.
Point is, I’m lost without my password manager program. I could not even log into Windows because I use my fingerprint to login to Windows instead of inputting a password. I have not keyed in a password to get into Windows in months. I don’t remember the password associated with my fingerprint.
Moreover, even after I asked my IT director to change my Windows password, I still could not remember the password to access A4A and go about my daily business on the Internet. I relied on Roboform to store all of those different passwords and have no idea what they are.
Fortunately, I regularly back up all my files, including my Roboform data, and just copied and pasted the Robform data from my backup drive to my backup computer. So I was able to access any information I had stored on the Web. By Tuesday night, all my documents were copied over and pretty much back on track. I have not missed a beat.
While everyone always focuses on backing up your data, I think that it is practical for an advisor to have a backup computer. Your backup computer can be your previous machine but only if it has the speed and network connection that you need to connect with your office.
I am not claiming that what I am doing is the very best way to insure against a hardware failure. But it worked and that's why I thought I'd give you the details. Hope it helps.
If you have a great backup plan, please let us know about it.