Not too long ago I experienced the equivalent of a disaster for larger businesses: My laptop computer died. I’m a technical guy and so I was able to limp along with some workarounds at first. I had an old laptop that I could use for most things, but it wasn’t pretty.
Little did I know that in the process of recovering, I was going to be consumed with other unrelated computer problems. All in all, I lost three full days of work troubleshooting and getting things rebuilt back to normal. I got behind on articles I needed to write. I neglected my blogs. I missed out on some consulting work, and I even missed a book deadline.
But it could’ve been much worse. Through thick and thicker, I saved my rear end by doing two things:
1) Warranty it up: When I purchased my laptop, I paid $295 for an on-site warranty. This not only got me next-day service, but it also kept me from having to spend a couple thousand dollars on a new laptop. I had to have my processor and system board replaced – arguably the best $250 I’ve ever spent. This also kept me from having to send my computer off loaded with sensitive information, something I simply can’t do in my line of work.
2) Back it up: I had a backup; it’s something I do religiously every day. It’d be hypocritical of me, an information security consultant, to not have one, right?
Imagine how much time I would’ve lost had I not done these two things.
So do yourself a BIG, BIG favor and backup your laptop. Do it now. Most laptop users I see in my work are required to do their own backups and guess what? Very few people are backing up their laptops. Use Windows Backup, purchase TrueImage, or just manually copy your data to an external drive (make sure you get everything though!). Just do something.
In the future, spend the extra money for the on-site warranty; pay extra for the drop/spill coverage too. If you’re like me, you will need it (I’ve needed this coverage three times with Dell, IBM, and HP), and you’ll kick yourself for not having it when that day comes down the road.
Even if you work for someone else who’s calling the shots on this stuff, ask for it or buy it yourself. It’s money well invested.
Here’s to planning ahead!
Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, expert witness, author, and professional speaker with Atlanta-based Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog. You can reach Kevin through his website at www.principlelogic.com and follow him on Twitter at @kevinbeaver.