If your main work computer crashed – I mean really crashed, and was a total loss, hard drive and all – how long would it take you to get back to doing business?
Would it be so long that it would cripple your income stream (and possibly cost you your best clients), or would it be a momentary blip that you easily recover from?
If you’d rather have it be a little blip (rather than a big “Oh, bleep!”), read on.
The Big Three: What You Need To Prepare For
There are three things that slow you down when it comes to getting back in business after an unrecoverable computer crash (or the dreaded laptop theft):
- Replacing the computer
- Setting up all your software and settings (again!)
- Getting your data back on the machine
Step #1: Replacing The Computer ASAP
Now that your machine is lost/stolen/busticated you’ll need to be able to get a new workhorse in place in the shortest amount of time possible. And to keep that time short, you need to have already prepared for it ahead of time. A few options to consider:
- Ensure you have the purchasing power on hand right now. You know how much it would take to replace your computer, so you want to make sure you have the ability to spend it on a moment’s notice. If your replacement computer will cost $700, keep that much open on a credit card. Or, if you have a particular store you shop with, you can get a line of credit from that retailer ahead of time. The bottom line is, you don’t want to have “finding the money” to limit your options when you have to get back to doing business.
- Ensure you know exactly what you need to replace what you have. Make sure you have a set of minimum machine specs on hand. Know what CPU/RAM/Hard Drive/etc. you need at the bare minimum, so you can jump right in and find what you want.
- Keep a running file of computer deals. If you get a lot of email coupons, archive them in a folder (or use a real folder for ones that come in the mail). When you’re in a pinch, you’ll thank yourself for having those money-saving coupons handy. You can also keep a few “deal sites” like GotApex? and FatWallet in mind for finding current specials.
Step #2: Setting Up All Your Software / Configuring Your Settings
This is where a lot of time can be spent if you’re not careful. Chances are you have a lot of software you use and a great many settings/bookmarks/saved passwords all over your machine. It could take you hours and hours to get that back up to where it was – that is, unless you handle it intelligently ahead of time with strategies like this:
- Keep all your CDs/DVDs in one place. If you have CDs/DVDs, keep them all together. You don’t want to be running around finding install disks (or serial numbers!) when your business is on hold. Make it easy on yourself.
- Back up every installer you download. If you download a lot of programs and utilities, save them all in a common area (that you back up, of course). This way you don’t have to go on the hunt for all of those little programs you use (that may not even be available anymore).
- Make a running list of all the tweaks you make to your system. If you like to have your software set up in a particular way, or you have a lot of plug-ins or programs that need specific information (like passwords for social bookmarking sites or cryptic usernames for FTP programs), save them somewhere – anywhere – so you won’t be left out in the cold when you have to set everything up again.
Step #3: Getting Your Data Back On The Machine
This is the simplest part – but it still takes time, especially if you have a large amount of data. It still takes time to dump 30 GB of critical info back onto your machine. A few tips to speed up the process:
- Make sure all your data is backed up in one place. Naturally, you want to have more than one copy of your backup, but you want to be able to have all your data in one place, so you’re not scrambling around trying to figure out where things are. This is a common issue for people who use multiple computers. make it easy on yourself and have a central place where you keep your stuff.
- Keep project-critical stuff separated from archive data. If you have 50 GB of data, that’s going to take a long time to transfer to your machine. And time is money. But if you keep your project-specific data separated in a way that’s easy to find, you can transfer that 2 GB over in a flash and save the archive stuff for an overnight job.
So Tell Me, How Fast Will You Be Back In Business?
Now that you know these tips, how fast will you be when your computer has its inevitable meltdown? Join the conversation below and let us know your strategies (and personal tips).
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