Some time ago I got an urgent phone call from the director of a small company: His computer wouldn’t start and could I come and take a look? And could I please hurry, as he had an urgent proposal to submit.

So I jumped in my car and drove over. When I arrived, I switched on the PC – and was greeted by what’s known as the ‘click of death’, which indicates a catastrophic hard disk failure. So catastrophic that the only way to recover any data is by sending it off to a data recovery specialist with a clean room where the hard disk can be taken apart and maybe – maybe – the data on the disk can be recovered.

I broke the bad news to my client, and asked if he had another computer as a fall-back solution?

He didn’t.

So I offered to lend him my laptop, just to finish the proposal.

Unfortunately, it turned out that not only didn’t he have a second computer, but he also never did a backup of his files. Everything – the urgent proposal, his accounts, his list of contacts, his projects – in short, almost all his business data – had been on his PC, and only on his PC.

This is about as bad as it gets. Needless to say, he didn’t get the proposal in on time, losing him a substantial contract. Furthermore, even the specialist data recovery company couldn’t salvage everything from the hard disk. Some of his data and essential parts of the operating system were gone, which meant that he not only had to buy a new hard disk, but he also had to reinstall Windows and all the software he’d been using.

All in all, with both direct costs and loss of income, the damages were well into the thousands.

One simple, inexpensive piece of software could have had him finish his proposal on time (with a borrowed laptop from yours truly) and his PC up and running, as if nothing had happened, within a day.

I’m talking about backup software (as if you hadn’t guessed.)

Unfortunately, a lot of people are a bit confused about the different backup options. It’s one of the things I have to explain most often when I take on a new client. Choosing the right backup plan without knowing what you need is very difficult, if not impossible.

So, to help you keep your data safe, I will give you a quick run-down of the process I go through with my clients, starting with the most urgent task: Backing up your files. So stay tuned for my next post!

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