Why You Need a Backup Plan for Your Backup Plan

Having a back up plan might not be enough to save you from grief.

Listed here are the 3 critical reasons you need to have a backup plan for your backup plan PLUS 7 serious tips you must keep in mind when switching to your new environment.

When my computer crashed 4 years ago, I lost everything that wasn’t stored on a floppy disk. (Am I dating my(tech)self?)  I was devastated and swore I’d never be in that position again.

I bought an external hard drive to back up my data locally and subscribed to a remote backup service for even more safekeeping.

For the last several years, I was proud of myself for my foresight.  At the same time, I was pushing my computer to it’s limits with all the files I accumulated on my hard drive and the multiple applications I always had open at any one time.

I purchased another external hard drive to hold my pictures, videos and audios and had begun to think about what my next computer would be but didn’t feel any urgency until that fateful day, March 19, The Day My Computer Crashed. I swear, I could make a full length movie out of what has transpired since then.

Here are the critical three reasons you need a backup plan for your backup plan.
1.  Because technology is moving so rapidly, your original backup plan won’t have anticipated all of the new things that could now go wrong.

2.  Things will go wrong that you hadn’t accounted for.

3.  Getting back up to speed will take WAY longer than you expected.

Here is the first of the seven serious tips.

1. Understand the data restore process and find out how long it takes to restore your data.
I had (erroneously) assumed that once I was ready, I would click some remote button and my stuff would magically and almost instantaneously appear on my new computer.  Not! So I waited to request the restoration until I figured out which computer I would buy and got it set up in my office. Bad mistake!

Because I had so much data backed up from my original computer, even after five days of waiting, by big “packet” of everything was still not available.

I was able to download individual files as I needed them and that process only took minutes so I wasn’t completely out of luck.  But I’m impatient and wanted all of it.  After waiting the five days for the ‘all of it packet’, I requested a smaller packet of the stuff I really needed.  But even that took several days to arrive!

Then, once it was available, there was another step to extract all of the compressed packets of data into the actual files that I could use.  That process took several more days! And finally, even though I downloaded entire folders of documents, all of the documents didn’t make the voyage.

LESSON: Had I known then what I know now, I would have started the restore process the moment we knew my hard drive was dead and requested my documents, files and folders in much smaller increments. Verify that everything you thought you downloaded actually makes it to your computer.

2.Check the status of your backup process regularly.
As mentioned in the video, I was rather cocky because I had built in redundant backup processes: one local on a hard drive, one remote.  I discovered that the local backup process had not successfully completed since mid-January.

To make matters worse, the software that ran the local backup wouldn’t work on my new computer (way more about that later).  Since most of the stuff I was anxious to get my hands on were my more recent creations, I abandoned the idea of upgrading to the newer version of local backup software since it wouldn’t produce the files I needed right away.  So I waited…

LESSON: Check your backup status weekly

3. Keep a printed list of the software/tools you download from the internet.

When you get a new computer, you’ll need to reinstall all of your software.  If you have the installation CDs, you’re good to go (although this process is also time-consuming.

The thing I had not anticipated was that all my cool tools I had found online would also be gone and I would not have a CD to reinstall them.  This is particularly important for software you purchase.  You might get the vendor to give you another download link, but you’ll need the exact date of purchase and/or the ‘key’ code to verify your purchase.

I was able to find one of my purchases (once Outlook was filled with all my history again), but it would have been great having a handy list.

LESSON: Save the ‘.exec’ files in a safe place (perhaps the Downloads folder on your computer). Rename them so you know what they are (Vendors often abbreviate them beyond recognition.) Maybe save the emails with download links or the download url address.  Periodically print out your list of tools and purchase dates.

4.  Before you purchase anything, identify your hardware and software/operating system needs and research your options.

Talk with some technical advisors from whom you cannot purchase anything to get an objective opinion.  Tell them how you work.  Let them make recommendations. You can go to stores to see the things in person, but the technicians in the stores will only tout the stuff they have on hand.

Here’s a compilation of what I heard from My PC Techs and My Computer Works. (Love them both; they’re lifesavers!) “Stick with HP and Dell.  Buy Intel inside.” (Windows 7 was tested on Intel.)

I went to four stores with my requirements in hand to check prices and was glad I did.  I spent a little more than I wanted but am happy with my purchase.   If you have the time or can plan ahead online purchases can be cheaper, but I was strapped for time and as you know, impatient.

LESSON: Use professionals who can guide you and help with the process.

5.  Wait 18 months before buying the newest operating systems.

Windows 7 does have some really cool features and works noticeably faster, but I’ve heard developers launch products when they’re ‘good enough’ then rely on customer feedback to work out the kinks.

LESSON:  In my research phase, I did notice that there were some computers that came loaded with Windows 7 plus a ‘rollback’ option to XP.  That would have gotten me up and running more quickly and avoided the pain of Tip 6.

6.  Figure out if your software will run on the operating system you buy.

Part of the reason for waiting is because when new operating systems are rolled out, all developers may not have revised their products to work in the new environments.  Even if they have, you may have to pay for upgrades in some cases.

Also, there is a difference between Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit.  As much of a geek that I am, I didn’t think about (nor do I totally understand) that difference.  I do know that some of my tools would have worked on the 32-bit version of Win7 but not the 64-bit that I got.

7.  Buy from a company with great support.

This was really important for me. With the specs I received from my advisors, I could have purchased a computer from local geeks who build them.  But I know that I need to be able to pick up the phone and say “XYZ isn’t working.  Help me” and then get that help.

I don’t have an in-house tech department and rely on the two companies I mentioned  above.  I have been thrilled with them and the support they provided in this transition.

I’ve also been impressed with the support from HP and Sprint (e.g. trying to get my phone to synch with my computer since the USB cable doesn’t work on Win7. ) They guide me through issues and do remote interventions for me.

They have even called me back to make sure everything is still working! I wasn’t expecting that.

Yesterday, when my phone successfully synched my new appointments and contacts using Bluetooth technology and my wireless printer didn’t go offline when it did, I finally felt like I was coming out of the dark.

I hope these tips have been helpful to you and prepare you for your next tech transition, planned or unplanned.  I encourage you to plan ahead however.  This was tedious process!

Please share your tips and stories here.

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