Save or Die!

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Now that we have all become totally digitized in the 21st century, depending upon our databases and hard drive space to make it through the day, and having our entire lives being rendered into binary code, I felt compelled to nag and preach a little here.

First of all, ask yourself what is priority number one in your business life right now. If you are running a business, your customer information, transaction records, inventory spreadsheets, vendor orders, shipping info and God knows what else is all inside your computer system right? If you are touring musician with a home studio like myself, all your audio and midi files, CD artwork, lyric sheets, music charts, set lists, events calendars, tour itineraries, fan mailing lists, address books, promo photos and poster artwork, not to mention tax and real estate documents are all kept on our hard drives. This is your entire life’s work compartmentalized onto a spinning plastic oxide disk!

If you have a constantly-updating hard drive that backs up your CPU every night, then you are on the right track, but what about laptops on the road? Sometimes it’s hard to discipline yourself to take a backup hard drive everywhere with you and plug the sucker in. I’m here to tell you…DO IT! I will explain why and my experience in a moment.

But there is also another option…cloud-based storage on the Internet. Even if you set up a hardware backup system and take it with you everywhere you go, the physical media where you are storing the backups, like DVDs or external disk, may not be very reliable in the long run. The other disadvantage is that local backups don’t always happen in real-time. I recommend that you switch to an online backup service. I’m doing it right now and there are a dozen or so services available. These are inexpensive and will automatically copy your computer’s data over the Internet (providing you have a connection mind you) to a more secure off-site location (the data center) in near real-time and without your involvement. The knucklehead factor is eliminated. That’s me.
I had an experience last week and I learned a terrible lesson. I wanted to share this little bit of wisdom here so you won’t have to go through what I just went through.

After returning off the road from a break-neck pace summer tour, I was in a coma (figurative) for about a week then decided to decompress up in the Sierras backpacking with buddies for four days. Here’s the catch. I had not backed up my laptop as of yet and had 20 new chapters of a novel I have been working on and all the photos from our summer tour in that puppy. Yeah, yeah, I know. Backing up on a flash drive would have been incredibly fast and easy. Hindsight is 20/20 right!? Anyway, while I was hiking out of the canyon in the middle of the day to return home, my wife went on an errand for an hour back in our hometown of San Luis Obispo, California, “the happiest place in America” according to Oprah and a national poll. Yeah right. While she was a away for just an hour, two thieves broke into our home in broad daylight and took the most valuable things they could grab fast: gold jewelry (now worth $1,800 an ounce) and my MacBook Pro. End of story. —Kenny Lee Lewis-Steve Miller Band bassist/guitarist