Like hurricanes and car accidents I have been in, September 24, 2010 is a day I'm not likely to ever forget. Not so much because I was in the middle of writing a press release that needed to get out and got lost when the server at crashed or because the 10 days of email that were recovered look spotty like it isn't all there. But because of the reflections and lessons since.
I wasn't affected as much as some of my colleagues because I keep a lot of my work on a cyber cloud or thumb drive so I always have access to it. Though this isn't a tutorial on external backup I'm going to tell you that if you don't do it you need to start or you'll end up exploring ugly disaster recovery if you have a systems crash.
Whether you run a one person consultancy with a laptop or a larger networked enterprise with multiple computers churning out mega data, it is a huge disruption and inconvenience to conducting business as usual if what you need is not available. If it's not retrievable - and quickly, might I add - you can suffer potentially irreparable loss. If you back up to an external hard drive located next to your computer or server that is located in the same building and that building burns down or some competitor sends a ninja to steal it, you'll wish you had used an off site back up service and that your data was encrypted in a vault on a cloud with multiple data centers around the globe for ensured retrievability, security and peace of mind. With all the technology available at very reasonable prices to back up and secure personal and business data, if you don't don't do it and do it the right way - don't expect sympathy if all your digital media and hard work go up in smoke.
The event reconfirmed to me why it's a good thing I monitor my reputation online to ensure it would never be a liability or embarrassment to me, my employer or my mother (hi mom =)). The first couple days after the crash I got filing and cleaning done, went out for lunch and made calls about things I would normally send email for. After the second day when I stopped believing it "would be up in an hour" I started bringing my personal laptop and picked up free wifi from downtown Public Square.
People found me....
Facebook and LinkedIn message traffic picked up and my personal email account started to receive work related email. I received more text and instant messages. No one complained, most never even mentioned that the email they sent to my work account was being kicked back. The rerouting of communication and data migration happened naturally without me posting even one message anywhere about my email being down. It reminds me of a documentary I watched in grade school science class about ant colonies. The worker ants carried things many times their weight along a path and if the path was obstructed they would just find another path. But they would get there.
People who had my vcard info or to whom I had given a business card did not have my personal email, social media profile info or personal website URL. Yet, they found me. If you are thinking I've lost it and that's what Google is for... that's exactly what a professor at Kings College said when I met with her after receiving a notice about a Global Landscapes Conference planning meeting to my personal email.
Well Karla, you know, in these days of Google... Dr. Bindu Vyas
**As a side note, if you are interested in attending or speaking at the conference check it out - I would love to see you here in Wilkes-Barre, PA!
She had googled me for alternatives... To my credit, I was easy to find because I understand and practice good SEO. To my credit what she found when she searched me didn't make her think twice about sending the planning meeting invitation to me. To my credit, my personal email address isn't something like firstname.lastname@example.org - my email is innocuous and wouldn't be offensive to anyone, it's my name. To my credit, I understand I could jeopardize my credibility through carelessness or not understanding the importance of positive professional branding.
There are many lessons here to consider if this has never happened to you.
The multiple ways I have enabled people to communicate with me could be seen by some as a curse, an encroachment on my personal life.. and I know people who do feel that way. In my opinion they helped me survive the crash of 2010 in a fairly seamless way with minimal impact.
Have you had to deal with a crash or extended downtime? How did you deal with it?
P.S. Because of this experience, my mind is wheeling about the way we employ communication tools. Another day I'll post about my thoughts on individual unique identifiers for seamless communication and in the meantime if you are an Internet architect looking for the next big step in evolution and would like to talk about it let me know.