What if you lost your computer for three weeks?

I just finally got my just-three-months-old computer back after it being gone for repairs for three weeks. That was a tough three weeks. The silver lining was my opportunity to see what the holes in my backup systems are. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

  1. I need a second computer with all my software installed on it, even the expensive adobe stuff and Quickbooks. This kind of sucks. I wanted to sell my old computer - it was still worth a good chunk of money. But… I would have been screwed without these last three weeks.

  2. Carbonite’s remote access does not allow you to download your files if they have a space or a special character in the name. WTF? How many of us have clients who send us files with spaces and ampersands? I am so getting a new backup service, and would appreciate recommendations.

  3. Don’t store sensitive data on my computer - stuff like pws and financial info. When my computer broke down, I was not able to start it. I thought I was going to have to send it to the manufacturer with all my client’s info on it. Fortunately I was able to get it started with the help of the folks at my local electronics store, and I stood there at the store for a half hour moving account info, etc. onto a thumb drive.

  4. My biggest loss was Outlook. Fortunately I had backed up my .pst, and always will in the future. Additionally, I am going to go back to backing it up to Plaxo as well.

  5. I also was really at a loss for the systems I use every day to stay organized. Most of these were centered in Outlook. I could have started them up in the meantime in a regular old notebook, but I kept thinking I would have my computer back in a couple days. If I ever have to do this again, I will immediately get my systems set up in an alternative context.

  6. I was really, really glad I had accidental damage insurance.

  7. My email usually deletes off the server after it has been downloaded to Outlook. Since during these three weeks, the email was never being downloaded to Outlook, it filled up my server space and I had emails bounce due to my server space being full. I set my server space quote to unlimited and will leave it that way.

  8. I forwarded my email to Gmail. A few of my addresses then had to forward two or three times to finally get to Gmail and they didn’t all make it. If I ever have to do this again, I’ll make it a point to check every email address using the server’s webmail to make sure I’m getting everything.

  9. It was hard to work, and I only earned half of what I normally would. Yet more proof that savings is important.

That’s all I can think of right now. I thought I’d share in case it is helpful to anyone else. Also I’d love to hear what others have learned, or do, to cover themselves in situations like this.

Computer crashes are the worst, when your business is online.
Back up everything, in duplicate. That way, when a computer is lost, another computer can be up and running in a day or two.

I’d pull my hair out, stress out, go nuts, tap the floor, twiddle my thumbps and look all nervous :slight_smile:

It is very difficult to live nowadays without computer because it is necessity. Computer is part of our everyday living we use this in school work and office work. In my case I use computer everyday in my work even I’m home so I don’t think I can live without PC maybe I will be fired because all of the data are stored in my computer.

There is only really one solution to virtually all your problems, and that is to increase your dependence on solid web software. Any half decent web service is going to be better than your single point of failure configuration.

It’s not easy to completely avoid storing sensitive data. The key would be to have a backup somewhere. I think most would agree if their machine was stolen (and that person did so to mine for sensitive data) they might be in some trouble. Password protect your machine at the very least. Physically store the bare minimum on your computer. Encryption software is widely available to do a pretty damn good job of securing your sensitive stuff.

You mention you have gmail already - why not collect your POP mail in Gmail all the time? I did this for the first time only a few weeks ago because I couldn’t really manage emails on the road - standard webmail clients like horde don’t really count because they suck.

Now, obviously, I have all my emails on hand at all times with significantly better spam filtering than I got from Mozilla Thunderbird. It also makes my iphone more useful when I can access emails anywhere.

Likewise I got onto Google Docs and never looked back.

Find web services that replace your Outlook organisation functionality. Don’t be afraid to pay a bucks for a service that will in the end save you time, and make you more money.

Add a little cussing to that, Jet, and that sounds about right.

So it turns out that Asus only fixed one of the two problems, so I have to send it back. They promise the will expedite the repair, but so far they haven’t been very reliable. But, it is what it is.

I’ve been wondering if I’m pathetic because I am so frustrated without my computer. But I found a good way to phrase it. It’s not that I can’t live without my computer, it’s that I can’t live without my work. And using a backup computer is like asking a race car driver to drive someone else’s car.

Unfortunately, Gmail is not an adequate replacement for Outlook. I’ve tried. But Outlook does a lot more than email, and it integrates all its functionality well. I use my task list intensively, and Outlook’s Journal as well. I would love to have a service like Outlook with web access, but I just haven’t been able to find one. Google has a ton of tools, but they just aren’t cohesive enough for me yet.

And I’m nervous about moving everything into the cloud. My back-up is on Carbonite, and I can’t get to all my files. I think the only way to really be sure is to have everything be local and in the cloud, synced.