Danny had a laptop crash. I have no details but it’s a good opportunity to extol the virtues of backing up your computer. Disk failures are normal, expected events, not wild outliers, and every computer owner needs to have backup capabilities.
Fortunately, a basic backup solution is easy. Go online or to a computer store and buy an external hard disk drive. I think Windows and Mac OS X both have backup software built in, but I use a third-party program that came with my external drive. It allows me to set the day and time of any backups and which folders I want backed up.
You really have to view this as part of the cost of the computer and not as an additional accessory, in the same way that car and home insurance is part of the basic cost of living.
If you only have a single point of failure in your backup system (like THAT disk failing), you’re still at serious risk. At the very least, burn your important documents (key emails, finances, legal docs, etc) to a CD every quarter or so. Think of it this way – how much time does it take to do that versus the time to reconstruct your will, your business plan, your account numbers, your investment archives?
Make sure your really important stuff is on file with the accountant or attorney or whatever. Even better, copy your backups to an offsite location yourself. You can check out a service like Carbonite, which is supposed to be pretty badass.
The industry-standard scheme is to have a ladder of backups – onsite dailies and weeklys that get rotated, then regular copying of those to an offsite storage depot (this used to mean physically moving stacks of magnetic tapes).
You’ll also want to back up your phone contents. I have an Android phone, so I can mount the phone as a USB drive and have the backup program copy those files. Android also syncs your contacts to the Google account the phone is linked to. However, the text messages and call log are not synced, so I use an app called SMS Backup+ to log text and call information to the Google account as well. (This has the added benefit of being able to read texts and see missed calls if I’m away from my phone but at a computer.)
On your work computer, ask the IT staff about backup options – companies should (and often do) have auto-backup software installed, although sometimes you have to opt in.
Take this stuff seriously. It’s really worth the minor trouble.