Backups are for Sissies? Meet a Sissy

Oct. 28, 2012 was an unusually busy Sunday for The Parkside Group, a campaign management company located in lower Manhattan. The countdown to Election Day was on, and the cycle’s final mail pieces were about to drop.

What was an already hectic schedule became an urgent one as the likelihood of unprecedented destruction from Hurricane Sandy merging with two other weather fronts became certain.

“It’s been challenging,” said Joe Reubens of The Parkside Group, in an interview with Campaigns & Elections on the aftermath of this historic superstorm.

His firm was prepared
Watching the forecast and following Sandy’s projected path, Reubens and his team adjusted production plans to stay one day ahead of the storm. By Monday night, lower Manhattan was flooded and the electricity was out, but the trucks delivering tons of direct mail had left the mail house 24 hours earlier.

Luckily, there was warning, and The Parkside Group reacted quickly. But there’s another kind of destruction in the design world that can happen out of the blue …

Learning the hard way
It was 9 p.m. and we were putting the final touches on a huge presentation The Deutsche Bank was planning to give the next day when … blank … nothing. My computer had crashed. My mind raced. When was the last time I’d hit that save button? I wasn’t sure. I had been in the zone, just working away, and forgot.

When we revived my computer, the file was damaged.

Did we have a backup from earlier that day, or even the day before? Of course not.

We had to go days and days back to a rather old version and painstakingly recreate things. I remember leaving the studio around 4:30 a.m.

Backups are for sissies
Well, over the years, this has happened to me a number of times. I’m sure many of you can relate. You don’t have to go as far as a natural disaster, or a fire or even a theft.

Just spill a chai tea latté over your keyboard. Or watch stunned as your 5-year-old discovers gravity (and the rather loud noise a laptop makes when it hits a tiled kitchen floor).

But I’ve learned.

I now have an automatic daily backup scheduled, and because I don’t trust easily, I also do a monthly backup of my hard drive to a slick 1 terabyte portable one. And because you never know, this portable drive lives in the glove compartment of my car.

Just in case.

Borrow a line from Michael Jackson
“Start with the man in the mirror.” Yes, you might smile condescendingly at me. In your world, things like this don’t happen. But ask around and you’ll be surprised how many of your friends and colleagues don’t back up their computers.

They don’t have a “Plan B.” They’re just too busy. Besides, somebody else takes care of that backup or a copy has to be somewhere, right?

If Sandy has taught us anything, it should be the value of “being prepared,” not just for the expected, but also for the unexpected.

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