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If your system crashed right now would you be ready?

February 20, 2009

By Chris Benson
Owner of GeeksAKnockin’ LLC,

Imagine if you came in to your office tomorrow and found that your laptop/desktop/server had been stolen.  How long could your business continue to operate without access to the information on those computers?  How much would it cost to recreate all the company records, customer lists, documents, emails, and financial data, and would it even be possible?  Thankfully, there are easy and comparatively inexpensive ways to quickly recover from disaster.

When considering a backup solution for your business there are two scenarios to consider:
1)How to minimize downtime and quickly recover from user errors or hardware failure
2)How to recover from major disasters like equipment theft or fire/flood

For the first scenario, I like to combine an external USB hard drive with a disk-imaging backup program like Acronis True Image (  Disk-imaging backup programs work by backing up the entire computer – this means all of your programs, data, settings, and preferences. If you have a PC crash, the most recent backup can be quickly restored to a new hard drive, and you are back up and running again right where you left off.  No more having to locate all of the installation CDs that came with the computer and waste hours reinstalling everything.

To protect against major catastrophes, I recommend Carbonite (  This is an online backup service that runs quietly in the background on your PC and backs up your data over the Internet to an offsite location. Installation takes about 5 minutes and costs less than $50/yr for an unlimited amount of storage.

Whatever backup solution you implement in your business, remember to test your backups regularly.  This can be as simple as restoring a few key files from the most recent backup and confirming that they open correctly and contain the information you expected to see.

— Chris Benson is the owner of GeeksAKnockin’ LLC, a Portland-based IT services business founded in 2003. GeeksAKnockin’ LLC specializes in showing small business owners how to use IT to make sure their systems are always on and their business is always on.

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Discuss this article

Dave February 20, 2009

Even if one say they are ready, I am sure we find out how unready we are once it happens.

Eli February 20, 2009

Losing one’s data is just dreadful. I had a hard drive failure that cost me dearly. We had to go to one of those specialists where they charge $600 to retrieve your data for hard cases. It was worth it but very expensive and took two weeks to do. I do not know what would have happened if we were unable to recover the needed files.

Alice February 20, 2009

Been there, done that and it’s not fun.

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