Disasters – Earthquakes, Fire, Flood – We have all experienced times in our life where disasters hit close to home, or changed the lives of someone we know. The powerful hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The devastating fires in the Columbia Gorge, Santa Rosa, southern California, and all over the western United States. The freezing winter in 2016-2017 that damaged homes and property with trees down and power surges. And it can happen so very quickly and unexpectedly – like the fire that destroyed the Kayak Shed retail store, and the fire that did major damage at Underwood Fruit Packing plant, both in the last two months. All of us have been reminded how crucial it is to be prepared for all types of emergencies. But have you considered emergency preparedness for the business data stored on your work computers?

As any small business owner knows, backing up your computer data is so very important. But seeing how fast a loss can happen at your business location makes it vital to have a backup of your system. However, quite a few businesses think that having a backup to an external hard drive or a USB flash drive that is kept on site is enough. Some businesses even store their backups on the same computer as their data, which doesn’t work if your computer crashes. And if your business is damaged, then there is every likelihood that your backup will also be damaged or destroyed. It is extremely important to have regular backups that are “offsite”, and away from possible danger!

First, make sure you are backing up on a regular basis. Depending on the amount of data that is entered, you should backup daily or at least weekly. If there is a loss of your computer data, your backup needs to be able to provide as much current and historical data as possible. This will alleviate having to “remember” what happened on days that were not backed up, which you would have to recreate for your own financial information and for tax preparation. So regularly schedule your backups, for QuickBooks, your Point of Sale program, or for whatever software you use for business.

Also, when you install new software or upgrade existing software, make sure to register it with the manufacturer when asked during the installations process (such as Intuit). If your equipment is damaged, you probably will be able to get a replacement of the software at no or minimal cost without having to purchase brand new software at full price, because they can find you registered the product.

Cloud backup is one option to consider. There are several companies that provide offsite backup for a monthly fee…such as Carbonite, Mozy, Backblaze, SOS Online, and various others. You can find reviews for these various companies, along with costs and features, by checking them out online. Take the time to research and see if they might work for you.

If you don’t want to pay for a cloud based service, consider using Google Drive storage or DropBox (if those sites are large enough to hold your data files). You also can continue to use external hard drives or USB flash drives, but don’t leave them at your office location. Take them with you each day, and keep them in a place that is easily grabbed if you need to evacuate your home. At least once each month, store a separate backup in a bank safety deposit box or some other location (with a friend, colleague, or another business location).

SCG Enterprises is also starting to offer a simple offsite service. If you are a client that we visit on a regular basis for bookkeeping work, we can take a USB flashdrive backup of your QuickBooks and Point of Sale software and keep it at our office location. We would charge a nominal monthly fee for this service. Please contact us if you are interested.

Ultimately it is the business owner’s responsibility to make sure backups are completed on a regular basis, and that they are not kept on the business premises. There are so many options available, and it doesn’t take much time to complete. It is unquestionably less time and less uncertainty than not having a backup available when a disaster happens. We all need to plan our emergency preparedness for our businesses, of which a current backup kept offsite should be at the top of the list. Are you prepared for the next potential disaster? Don’t delay…all of us will be affected sometime in our lives! DO A BACKUP! AND KEEP IT OFFSITE!