Be True to Your Principles

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Normally, I’m a cautious person. In most business situations, I evaluate risk and reward factors, analyze potential courses of action, and only when I have sense of how to best move forward do I launch. Go through this enough times and you begin to develop some core principles of activity.

One of my core principles is “redundancy and security.”

Now you need to understand – this is in my cultural DNA. I grew up in Montana during the height of the Cold War. Between the “duck and cover” school drills that gave us the security of knowing that our school desks would protect us from nuclear annihilation (heh) – and the “survivalist” thread that runs through much of Western culture, the idea of having redundant and secure provisions is deeply embedded in how I operate.

Which is why it is so embarrassing that I lost some data this past week. Not much, mind you. But enough to make me hang my head in shame, and help remind me of the importance of being true to core principles.

So what happened? I had been utilizing an iPhone-specific task manager to manage projects for my clients. I won’t mention which one, because there is nothing actually wrong with the application itself. However, the data only lived on the iPhone and on the backups the iPhone creates on the central computer. Long story short, I had to reset my iPhone for an unrelated reason, and trusted in Apple’s backup and restore function. Big mistake. It failed, and I had no other redundant or secure backup.

There’s no excuse for this. There are plenty of tools available that work well on the iPhone, computer, AND the web, and I should have been using one of them. The funny thing is, I am a fervent fan of cloud computing, and already use “the cloud” for virtually all parts of my business. But in this one tiny instance, I made an exception, and it burned me.

So…

What lessons can we learn here:

  1. Back-up your data with a cloud-based service like Jungle Disk or Mozy
  2. Use trusted web services (use due diligence) to host your mission critical data and services (I use Google, Remember the Milk, and Evernote – you might use something else)
  3. Make sure every part of your operation could survive if the data provider for one part of your setup were to fail. For instance, I backup all of my Gmail – everything – into a Yahoo account, as well as locally using Google Gears
  4. If you are reliant on social media or blogging, then consider using a service such as Backupify to backup that distributed data.

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