It started yesterday morning, my busiest day of the week (Monday).  When I walked into my office my pc screen had a message that my computer had been restarted and was sitting in ‘Safe Mode’.  The screen was frozen.  I had no choice but to perform a Shut Down.  My computer came back up (very slowly) but to my dismay would not connect to the internet.  After 3 1/2 hours on the phone with my Premium Microsoft Account support people there was only one thing left to do.  Wipe it clean and start over.

After a recent scare a few weeks ago related to the same p.c. I got out my External Hard Drive and backed up my p.c.  Once a week I refreshed my backup so that the drive was very up-to-date.  Of course Monday was shot when I hung up with Microsoft at 3:40 p.m.

This morning (Tuesday) I sat down to my computer and proceeded to restore my data and, thank heavens, it worked!  But then there was refreshing my Office 365 account and several others.  But that was a small price to pay compared to what it would have been had I lost all my data.  So, my dear Controller friends, whether you work exclusively from the same laptop for work and personal, or you have a different p.c. in your home office let me advise you why you need a reliable backup, whether it’s in the cloud or an external hard drive:

  1. Tons of travel and family photos
  2. All my spreadsheets I keep on my home P.C. related to some complex tax returns I prepare for my husband and I as well as other family members.
  3. A CPE Log I have kept for years of all the CPE classes and credits I have obtained to comply with the requiremens of my CPA license.
  4. My Client Files with their financials (I would have hated to have to ask for them again)
  5. Writings and drafts of articles and papers I have and am submitting to various websites I provide writings for.
  6. Cost basis tracking for my husband’s stocks he buys and sells.  Finally this year brokerages are required to provide cost basis but if we were audited, I would desperately need these files.
  7. Three years of Turbo Tax programs and files
  8. Downloads of various documents related to my consulting practice

As I restored from my external hard drive my stomach was in a knot.  I was terrified that even though the drive had assured me it had completed backing up, one never knows.  The absolute relief I felt as everything restored beautifully was indescribable.

Can you imagine losing all your data at work because even though you are connected to the network, there are no authorizations installed to backup your desktop’s hard drive.  Don’t think this can’t happen because it has and it does.  Your I.T. people are concerned about backing up the servers but not necesarrily any of the desktops or laptops that might be periodically hooked up to the network in a docking station.  Do not assume you are safe.  Check in with your I.T. folks.  And as far as at home, perhaps in a home office setting, please be sure you have a way to backup by making a full backup first and then updating at least weekly.  I use an external hard drive which you can buy for probably under $100 depending on how much data you have to back up.  But it is easy to use.

While I can’t prove it, my fatal issues began after a nighttime Microsoft update.  After that installed, my computer was not able to function correctly.  Since the wipe and restore, it’s working great.  Really, I’m kind of glad I restored because it was a great opportunity for some clean up and speed up on my p.c.  But it could have been a sickening disaster!





Below is an article I wrote as a guest columnist for NEXXTEP TECHNOLOGY in Valdosta, GA.  Every Controller must be in tune to and aware of the status of their company’s data protection.


THE ROAD TO RUIN ….Why Business Owners Must Protect Their Data

In my entire career, I’ve never had a corporate executive or business owner tell me they lost sleep over  losing their data.  After all, what’s insurance for anyway?  The downfall of such ignorance is that no matter how high your insurance payout no amount of money can buy back your lost data.

In an article published in 2011 for IDG News Service, the author, Grant Gross examines the impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the fact that ‘losses of technology and intellectual property on “such a large scale” were considered unlikely before 9/11.  What has often been quoted by various sources is that 25% of the companies located in the World Trade Center towers were never able to come back from the disaster because all of their data was gone and no viable backups existed.  What we also know is that backing up your data isn’t enough if your software vendor has performed significant customizations of your software.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, many companies suffered complete and total losses of their data due to flawed or non-existent backups and were forced out of business.

If you are thinking that it’s unlikely you will be the victim of a hurricane or a flood or even a terrorist attack, there are lots of reasons you can lose your data including employee sabotage (more common than you might think) electrical fires, viruses (I’ve been through that), etc.   Would you wait until you start having chest pains to think about writing a will?  I hope not.

From BCN News Services we are told the following:

  • 30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within one year
  • 31% of PC Users have lost all of their files due to events beyond their control
  • 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster
  • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
  • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States (From: Mozy online backup)
  • 34% of companies fail to test their tape backups and of those that do, 77% have found tape back-up failures.

There are plenty more statistics but I won’t bore you with them.  The above statistics should be frightening enough.

Maybe you’re an attorney or a doctor.  The loss of client or patient files would be catastrosphic.  What if you got a call tomorrow night at 2:00 a.m. that your office building is on fire.  Lose your data, lose your Accounts Receivable………how easy would it be for you to construct your accounts receivables from memory?  Could you prove that the numbers were correct?

The history of backing up data has evolved from someone using a zip drive or magnetic tape for backup and then taking it home with them to cloud or offsite solutions.  The fail rate for tape and zip drives is considerable according to the above statistics.  Cloud and offsite storage solutions can provide substantial protection of your data.

Most of you reading this column are NEXXTEP customers.  But are you taking advantage of NEXXTEP’s backup solutions?  If you are making your own backups but not testing them, you are just going through the motions.  Have you really thought about how devastating it would be to lose all your data in a fire, tornado, flood or broken water main?  You can replace your servers with new boxes, but without restorable data you just have new empty boxes.  And, if you are running a single data center (all your equipment is in one building) you are highly vulnerable to massive data loss.

If you are a business owner with a significant investment of time and capital, stay away from those one-man shops that can be here today and gone tomorrow.  They are not much help if disaster recovery becomes an issue.

I have never really understood why so many business owners are so unconcerned about the spectre of data loss that hangs over them.  As we march towards the era of cloud solutions knowing that your data resides far from your business in a protected and safe environment must and should be in the forefront of all risk management practices.  The future of your business in which you have invested your life’s work depends on it.

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