Over the weekend I had a near panic attack because I made the mistake of installing an update that reset my computer back to a clean slate.

The update was an official security patch but I failed to allow all of them to download and apply so it did a roll-back, kept all my programs, but buried (and deleted) many of my files… including all of my business documents.

You couldn’t imagine the dread that flowed through me.

Luckily I had a previous state available to roll-back the updates and luckily it was able to fix the problem but then it got me thinking… what if I didn’t have that option?

Would you be able to rebuild your business if all of your files suddenly went up in flames?

I spent the next few hours taking action and learning my options for doing backups (even though it’s something I had done before but lazily never followed through – like so many others).

Here is what I would recommend:

A. You need to create a process and protocol where each week (even better if each day) you are doing at least one form of backup of your important files (after all it’s a business best practice).

B. Use the built-in OS recovery tools to create a backup of your computer, too, which should be done at least once a month if you use it casually but perhaps once a week if you’re heavily using the machine.

C. Put down the money and purchase an external hard drive and make it a habit to make backups to it whenever you find yourself with a bit of downtime – work it into your routine.

D. Subscribe to a handful of the online backup/storage services (the free accounts are perfectly fine) to do an online backup of your most important files (ones that make the business possible). Again, do this frequently so you’re not stuck with outdated information.

E. Create an emergency fund for computer hardware/software troubles which will come in handy if your main machine breaks down and you can’t afford the downtime. If the majority of your income is coming from the work you do from your computer you damn well better have a backup plan.

Learn from my mistake. Things would have gone into catastrophic if I didn’t luck out with the automatic save state on my computer. Business would have crumbled all over an honest mistake.

After reading this don’t just him-and-hay and go on your merry-way – get something started with doing regular backups of your important work files. Go out and buy that hard drive or sign up to one of the services, do something, else you may not be so lucky.

Image by DodgertonSkillhause