December 5, 2022

Small Business Advice

Back Up Your Technology

Jerry Osteryoung | 10/12/2009
Technology can be so great, and I really do love my tech toys. However, without the proper backup measures, they quickly turn from friend to foe.

I have a new phone, which I love except for last week. I decided (with some help from a computer salesman) that I needed to install new software on my phone that would enable me to wirelessly synchronize the phone with my computers (a Mac and a PC). I thought this was a great idea to ensure that none of my data gets lost before I return to my office.

Last week, while on a trip to South Florida, I installed this new software only to have all of my data (contacts and calendars) disappear into the clouds. This was not good, especially since I was in South Florida doing work. Without the data from my phone, I had no idea where or when my appointments were.

After many calls to the software company and one very strong chastisement from them to me for not having a backup with me (my computer, of course, was back in Tallahassee), there was not really much they could do.

I was able to limp through the week in Fort Lauderdale using only a few four letter words to vent my total frustration. I was, however, petrified to go back to Tallahassee and try to resync my phone for fear that the data in my office might disappear as well.

Before trying to resynchronize my files, I made two CDs with the data in case I lost it again. This time, the backup and data recovery worked out okay, but the whole ordeal made me realize just how important backing up your data is, particularly for business owners.

Whether due to circumstances that are not your fault or cases like mine (I think that I messed up the installation of the software), you will eventually need your backup disc. Even if you do everything right.

It is critical that you back up your files daily and store your data off premises. If you live in Miami, keeping a backup in Fort Lauderdale is not going to do it as a large hurricane in Miami is going to affect Fort Lauderdale as well. There are many companies out there that offer services to electronically back up your data every day, and they are typically located a long distance away.

Not only must you make backups, but you should also know how to restore your system from these backups. I was helping a business, and I was concerned about their backup procedure. I asked the owner to restore the data from the backup to the primary computer system. He was hesitant to do so as he had never done it before, so I got him to make another backup, just in case. He then tried to restore the data from the first backup, and he had a number of problems.

When we got through this ordeal, he thanked me as he would never have tried to restore the data if I had not made him. Now he feels so much more empowered as he not only backs everything up, but he also knows how to restore it.

Like most things, it is frequently useful to get professional help in setting up your backup scenarios and recovery testing. This is money well spent.

Now go out and make sure that you back up your files daily and store your data a safe distance from your office. Additionally, be certain that you can easily restore your system from your backup data.

Jerry Osteryoung is the Director of Outreach of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University, the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship; and Professor of Finance. He was the founding Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 850-644-3372.

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