Friday, April 30, 2010

Backup Procedures & Disaster Preparedness

In a previous post I talked about trying out online backups. I have since set up such backups and put together a comprehensive backup plan. Here is what I do to keep files safe and continue working should disaster strike:

I keep the client's original files both in a separate directory for the project on my hard drive and in the original e-mail with which the client assigned the project. In addition, I keep a hard copy of the assignment e-mail and/or PO, as well as any special instructions the client might have sent. On that copy I also note the translation memory and glossar(ies) used for that project, as well as its due date and the date and time I sent the completed work to the client. This gives me a physical reference of the scope of work and resources used, which is also useful if a follow-up assignment arrives. A quick look at the client's file and I can ensure that I use the same glossaries and translation memory as I did for the prior project, which in turn ensures consistent use of terminology.

After stopping work on a project for longer than a brief break, I back all project files up to a CD specific to the client. I also back up the completed project there. Over time, this provides me with a complete collection of all projects completed for this client during the calendar year. Since I keep these CDs and the associated hard copy of instructions, etc., for 5 years, I can refer back to prior projects should a follow-up assignment arrive years later.

In addition, my entire client directory is backed up to a secure online storage site every night. Every Friday, all files that changed on my hard drive during the week are backed up to a network-attached external hard drive. Both these measures ensure easy access to all information -- both pending work and invoicing/payment data, as well as translation memories and glossaries -- should my primary computer crash. Since I also have a laptop, and other members of my family also have computers, a potential computer failure should cause only a short disruption in work on my current projects (long-term, of course, it would be a big headache).

My laptop includes a second, swappable battery, so I can continue work for up to 6 hours, even if power fails. Other safety measures for such outages include uninterruptible power supplies for my computer, printer and business telephone line, as well as for the network router and cable modem. These power supplies permit orderly shutdown of systems in the event of an abrupt power failure, minimizing the chances of corrupted files or damage to equipment.

Should my broadband internet connection fail, I can take my laptop to several cafes with free wireless internet access which are located within a few subway stops and are open until 1 am. And there's also my Blackberry, where I can communicate with clients by e-mail or phone (Skype mobile), even if I am not in the office or there is no power. That Blackberry can even be used as a modem for e-mailing files, if none of the Wi-Fi cafes were available or open.

Of course, if half of the United States is without power for several days, all of these measures will be of limited use. But short of that, I should be able to complete any outstanding projects on time, even if disaster strikes. Which, however, leaves the question of backing myself up, not just the equipment. I haven't solved that one yet, but I'm working on it ...

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