Handle with care Featured

9:46am EDT July 22, 2002
I have a friend who was convinced that Y2K spelled the end of the world. For years, he warned me to take precautions for the catastrophic events that were sure to accompany the changeover from 1999 to 2000.

“You’d better not have anything stored on your computer that you want to keep,” he said, “It’ll disappear come Jan. 1, 2000. Mark my words, all hell will break loose.”

My typical response was to shrug and assure him I would be prepared.

Well, if you’re reading this in the confines of your comfortable office, it’s safe to assume my friend wasn’t right about the end of the world. But he wasn’t far off on his other warnings, especially about the fate of my computer. I lost everything, but it had nothing to do Y2K.

The bottom line is that I should have known better, especially considering how many stories I’ve written — and read — about backing up computer data. So when my computer hard drive crashed a few months ago, I, like many other people, simply sat there stunned, gaping in disbelief, wishing I’d taken the time to back up my information.

Simply put, there was there was no reason why I couldn’t have found five minutes a day to connect a Zip drive (there was one conveniently sitting in my filing cabinet) and copy everything over.

The end arrived with an ominous clunk, short-lived and loud. A co-worker in my office at the time offered this sardonic prophecy: “That didn’t sound too good.”

Moments later, after a few hastily rendered prayers and a desperate call to our IT director, nearly three years of data was gone — phone numbers, interview notes, half-written stories and memos counted among the MIA.

But in tragedy, I learned a valuable lesson: Preparation is something you do, and you don’t put it off until tomorrow. That applies to business owners in every aspect of their operations, not just information management. You never know when the bottom is going to drop out and leave you standing there with a dumb look on your face.

Just because things are going well today doesn’t mean the gravy days will continue. In fact, most bad things will happen to your business the moment you become complacent. There’s an old axiom that says it best: Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I always viewed that with a grain of salt. Now, however, I see it differently.

Being prepared is more than keeping up with the latest technology, watching your competitors to see what they’re doing, or even putting a little bit of money away for a rainy day. It’s the realization that technology is nothing more than a tool to help you make your business more efficient. Blind reliance without back-up measures can lead to disaster.

But more important, preparation is an action that occurs today, not tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes. If there’s a moral to the story, it’s that you can, indeed, learn from your mistakes.

That said, Happy New Year.

Dustin Klein (dsklein@sbnnet.com) is editor of SBN. He has spent the last four months piecing his database back together and now backs up his information daily.