This is a cautionary tale at my own expense. I know how important regular backups are. I really do. And when the hard drive on my laptop bit the dust the other night I reminded myself of this fundamental principle of document management.

My Word and Excel documents were ok as they were for the most part backed up. But then there was the matter of my email and contact information in Outlook. Up to date? No. And the Favorites data in Internet Explorer? No.

Tony Robbins used to say, no matter how bad the situation is, a really liberating question to ask is ‘What’s good about this?’ So what *is* good about losing stacks of emails? And contact information? And what’s *good* about losing the links to all those great websites and blogs I’ve discovered lately?

Answering the question was not easy. Then, having checked with the computer guy, who told me he could not retrieve any data, I realised I had to accept that the data had gone.

Then I thought about Australian bushfires. When these fires are roaring through the eucalypts, they are a thing of terror and awe. But there are plant forms that lie hidden beneath the surface and need a fire to enable them to appear and flourish. For the technically minded, there is a good article, How fires affect biodiversity.

So, looking on the bright side, I realised that there was a lot of non-essential and even potentially time-wasting material in the email folders and in the Internet Explorer Favorites file. I could have been spending a lot of time, not necessarily productively, sorting through and organising this material. As for contacts, well, I figure there are ways of getting in touch with most of the people not on earlier backups and whom I want to connect with – business cards, websites etc.

I’ve also noticed that my new hard drive, not burdened with all the *interesting* applications I had downloaded onto the old one over the past couple of years and couldn’t bring myself to discard, is running much smoother and faster, thank you very much.

This however is all called making the best of a situation that did not need to arise. After all, when I first set up my home based business and spent a large chunk of money to buy a PC, printer etc, I was obsessive about backing up. What happened, I asked. Then I realised that over the years, through switching from one backup system and technology to another (originally inserting one floppy disc after another, labelling them etc!)  I had got into the way of backing  up when I thought of it, not as a regular, systematic, streamlined activity.

So I need to back up more. And I need to re-institute this as  a scheduled, systematic activity, not dependent on whether I feel like it, or remember it.

This is another example of how if our home based business is to be truly a business, not just a hobby, we need to install and work with systems. And review our systems and how well we are utilising them. Especially with the data, which is at the core of contemporary business!

There are many different backup systems. I’ve been frustrated in the past trying to retrieve data backed up with Microsoft products but my computer guy tells me the current backup technology in Windows XP is quite good. So I’m looking at that and in the meantime I’ve bought a big pack of CDs and will be using them with a straight copy command.

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