At a certain age, we’re all in the dark about the importance of keeping our things safe. As children we leave our bikes in the rain and scatter our toys across the floor where they inevitably lance our mothers’ already tired feet. Then we start to learn that if we take care of our things, they’ll last us a long time. We also learn about sharing our things and how great it is to be able to play with a friend’s toys while they play with ours, and we learn that some friends don’t treat our toys well. Some never give them back.
A short eleven years after learning these lessons, I was a young-blooded boy with a fresh grin, dancing my way into college. I had my college freshman starter kit: books, bag, dorm key, and computer. It was all so great, learning tons, having fun, and getting work done, until the smallest thing created the biggest disaster.
I purchased my laptop from a big box store, so naturally I was sold various extra pieces of hardware, virus software, and so on. There was never a mention of data backup. The thought of losing everything saved on my computer never even occurred to me but about a year later (after the manufacturer warranty expired and without warning) my wonderful fun-and-learning box stopped working, and all my important documents for school were teetering on the brink of total loss.
I brought my laptop to the computer ER at the big box store, fearing that its internal wounds would result in its untimely death. The geek doctors set about procuring the data from the insides. They explained that although some of the organs (data) might still be useable, the computer would only ever be an empty shell and would never visit a website again.
I was lucky, they said. They had recovered the data from the non-working hard drive and it was safe on their server. They explained that for a mere ninety dollars they would give me back my data, provided that I brought in or purchased an external hard drive. I was crushed. All my reports, research, essays, music, videos, poems and stories were taken from me and held for ransom. Who were they to take my data? Being a freshman in college, I didn’t have the money to buy back my data and a new computer, so I had to tell them to delete it. I wasn’t getting my toys back from my “friend” and I felt like a bike out in the rain.
What does this parable teach us?
If you run a small business, you rely on your data even more than a college student and you need a better plan. Ask yourself, “Who’s taking care of my data?” If you’re taking care of your own data, when was the last time you reviewed your plan? Have you tested your backups recently?
If you’re working with an MSP or other IT consultant, do you understand all the agreements you’ve made? Do you know where they’re storing your data, how they plan to recover in case of disaster, and if there are hidden costs? If I’d thought about the potential loss of data and the cost of recovery when I purchased my computer, I would’ve put a better plan in place.
Clearly, I would have liked a salesman to explain the process and fees to me upfront, which brings me to what this story has to do with you solution providers. How clear is your service agreement? Can you be sure your clients understand what you’re doing and what exactly is costing them money? We who provide backup and disaster recovery service want to be those friends who play nice because if we steal toys, no one will want to play, and we’ll all be out in the rain.