How to kill my business

Or, I should say, how you could have killed my business.

On August 27 I noticed my internet connection was really slow. By the afternoon, I couldn’t actually load Google Drive, and Dropbox had stopped syncing.

Since I store sensitive business documents on Google Drive, and rely on Dropbox to back up all my project files, this concerned me. But, you know, sometimes the internet is crap and you work around it and everything is fine the next day.

The next day it seemed okay…until the afternoon again. And then Drive and Dropbox and email and many other services became inaccessible.

FTP too, which effectively prevented me from doing work on a couple of projects.

I checked out my ISP’s website and they did have a notice up saying there were connection problems for people in my area, that it would be resolved soon, yadayada. What can yah do.

Weeeeell, after a couple more days of this nonsense I was really starting to feel the pinch. I can work around the occasional connection problem, but being unable to access several key sites between 4 pm and midnight was effectively killing my ability to work — especially since I do most of my work later in the day.

Suffice to say it has taken me a long time to get back up and running — eventually I had to switch ISPs, and that was a very slow process in itself.

What I realized in this debacle was that it’s quite easy to kill my business. Yes, I back up to the cloud — not just every night, but every time a file changes. But without internet access, the backup disappears.

Yes, my emails are backed up by Google, who presumably do a better job than I could. But without internet access, the emails disappear.

Okay, so in a pinch I can use someone else’s internet (wifi ftw). But then…I got thinking…what if the accounts I use got shut down?

If Dropbox shut down my account, I’d have no backups. That would be annoying, although not dire. But if Google shut down my accounts…I’d have no email. It would simply disappear. No records of client conversations, no access to my contacts — so I’d lose many clients’ email addresses. Nothing to tell me when events are scheduled for No critical documents (like financial information that I’d be very stuck without).

It would be pretty damned disastrous.

So I spent a bit of time researching my options, and I eventually did two things:

Firstly, I signed up for CloudHQ. This was the most important step. CloudHQ syncs between umpteen different services, including Dropbox, Google Drive etc. So you can replicate Google Drive documents into Dropbox and vice versa. And that in turn can replicate down to your computer. Redundancy!

It also lets you back up your emails as text documents. So again, old emails can be accessed even when the internet is down, and of course all new emails are automatically backed up wherever you want.

The most impressive thing about CloudHQ for me was that when I emailed them, I got a personal reply from Senad Dizdar, their founder. (And it’s not like I’m famous or anything.) He was very helpful and open, and that pretty much sealed the deal for me. It’s rare to find someone running a business who is still responding to customers, but as a business owner who does this myself, I certainly appreciated it.

Secondly, I also signed up for Copy. This is a new service very much like Dropbox and others. It looks good and it comes with a fair amount of free space, so it’s a good backup to my backup (ie, if Dropbox were to fail for some reason, I’d still have redundancy). Maybe I’m just being paranoid at this point, but…eh, it’s my business, and I’d rather not take any chances.

Maybe this is all knobvious to you. You might be rolling your eyes and shaking your head and smugly sipping your coffee because you’re totally covered.

But maybe you’re not.

I worked in IT for 7 years — including being on a helpdesk during a major data loss at a government organization — and my best friend owns a data recovery business. If I could get complacent about having access to all my important data all the time, chances are you can too.

Have a think about what would happen if your critical services got shut down for whatever reason and in whatever way. Are you covered?


D Bnonn Tennant
‘The Information Highwayman’

D Bnonn Tennant, ‘The Information Highwayman’, signs his name to this