‘Computer says no’

‘Computer says no’

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Working alone? What can you do when your laptop crashes

As a freelancer, what do you do when your computer crashes? Without the safety net of an IT support desk or a corporate network, you could spend hours trying to retrieve that all-important piece of work or hardware that’s just decided to give up the ghost.

There are a lot of ways that data can be lost. Computers get damaged, accidents happen, and increasingly prevalent and insidious cyber-attacks can leave freelancers vulnerable to data loss.

With the launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year, freelancers also need to demonstrate accountability, transparency and integrity with their business data or face eye-wateringly hefty fines.

Luckily, we now live in a digital world where a range of proactive solutions are available to help you seamlessly build resilience into your technologies. You don’t have to be an IT expert. Nor should you have to fork out thousands when the worst happens.You may not even have to ‘turn it on, then turn it off again’. 

Here’s how to make sure your work is safe and recoverable.

Backup, backup and backup again

It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but if you want to make sure you can recover your important data you need to back it up.

You can choose from a range of different options, but the 3-2-1 backup method is simple to implement. The basic premise is that your company’s information is split into three parts: one is your live and local copy that you use on a daily basis, the second is a local and easily accessible backup system and the third is a backup system that’s stored off-site.

You should also store your data in at least two different formats and keep one off-site to protect against natural disasters such as a fire, flood or theft.

One of the easiest ways to create a local backup of your business data is to simply store copies of important files on an external hard drive, tape drive or another storage device on a regular basis.

You will need to decide what sort of media you will use for your on-site backups. For example, tape backups and portable hard drives are simple, reliable and relatively cost-effective options. However, these processes are not usually automated and can take time to run.

A Continuous Data Protection (CDP) system constantly backs up your data to a local backup server or appliance. However, they are more complex compared with tape and portable hard drive backups, are more expensive and lack portability.

Into the cloud

A cloud backup creates a secure copy of your data on a remote server, which you can access via an internet connection. Cloud backups are highly secure, using encryption techniques to protect your information. They also give you an off-site option, providing additional contingency and security to ensure your vital work is available as and when you need it.

It’s important to note that we are not talking about syncing your data with services such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive here. Backing up your data is an entirely different premise. While these sync services do provide another layer of protection if your hardware goes pop, your work will still be lost across all of your devices if you accidentally delete a file or a data criminal gains access to these online services.

A true backup service enables you to create automated backups of your systems and information and store as many versions of it as you need.

Outsource your IT support

Computers can be intimidating, so outsourcing your IT support not only saves you the stress of dealing with a technical failure, but you’ll also save your precious time as well.

There are many different IT support businesses out there, and each one will offer a different level of service.

You may, for example, just want someone to help you back up and protect your PC. Alternatively, you may opt for a full IT maintenance contract with 24/7 network monitoring, security updates and management, as well as on-site and remote support.

If you do decide to work with a third-party IT support company, try to find one that works locally so you can drop in with your ailing tech and won’t be charged for their time if your data cannot be recovered.

Also look for those who can provide positive customer reviews and reassurances regarding your data privacy and offer a range of services beyond data recovery to give your business the support and know-how it needs.

In conclusion, freelancers must consider their own data protection needs and choose a strategy accordingly. It depends on the nature of your business, how frequently your data needs to be backed up, and how quickly you need it back if your computer suddenly says “no”.

By Gemma Church

Technology