Your information might be one of your most valuable assets, but if you don’t back it up, it could easily become the victim of a disaster. Whether it’s a statistically improbable lightning strike or a seemingly innocent dormant volcano, all it takes is one random disaster to wipe out all of your data. Thankfully, you have options for safeguarding your business from these potential disasters.

Know when to Hire a Professional

If your hard drive simply stops working, it doesn’t necessarily mean your data is gone forever. Email can usually be recovered pretty easily. Data recovery software for Outlook can be used to recover email without the need to hire a professional. If it doesn’t work, save yourself time, frustration and potentially more damage by biting the bullet and hiring an expert. A quick Internet search for data recovery professionals should turn up plenty of vendors, so look for one who is certified in physical and logical data recovery.

Back Up Plan

Back up plans: some are better than others. Remember how John F. Kennedy declared in his cocky but lovable way that the U.S. would be the first to land on the moon? Well, it turns out that the president Kennedy became increasingly worried about this promise. The space race during the cold war affected not only the nation’s pocketbook, but also our general morale. Kennedy’s plan B was to join forces with Vladimir Khrushchev to create a joint moon landing mission. The same week the Kennedy revealed the agreement, he was killed. President Johnson could not make the agreement stick, and the U.S. made history on its own. Some argue that Plan B could have stopped the cold war from going on so long, an additional 28 years after the assassination of President Kennedy. Now, you may not stop a cold war by having a plan B for your data, but you may prevent your own personal disaster.

Consider storing your data to the cloud. The cloud isn’t really a cloud at all, but rather an off-site data center from which you can rent space. In this cloud, you can store all of your data safely and securely. Consider free programs like Wuala for easy cloud storage. This service offers encryption and password protection, too. That way, if you accidentally spill coffee on your computer, you still have all of your information backed up in a place far away.

Watch for Signs

Just like you have to watch for STOP signs on the road, you can also watch for signs that your hard drive may be coming to a stop. If you hear your hard drive making loud clicking, whirring or grinding, it’s likely there’s an issue. Shut down your computer and remove the power source. Either remove the hard drive and take it to a trustworthy professional or leave it in the protective shell of the computer and take the whole thing over. In any case, be careful with it, because a hard drive isn’t as durable as its name might have you believe. Physical jarring and static electricity are particularly hard on hard drives. Disaster may not strike, but when it does, it’s important to know how to handle your data.

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