Some disasters are huge, covering half a continent, but some are extremely localized, affecting perhaps a single computer. Last week I experienced one of those disasters, but instead of it being a hurricane or a fire, it was a disaster called 'Windows Update.' Fortunately, this disaster didn't affect anything but a single computer, but it was the primary workstation for my company, and it contained all of the critical data that I use to keep my business running.
In the past, this sort of thing would basically put my work on hold for a few days until I found the problem, fixed it, and got things recovered. This time, while it was inconvenient, I was able to keep working and keep my business running. Except for the time spent on tech support calls, I remained productive.
The single factor that kept me going was that I'd chosen to add a cloud-based storage provider, Carbonite, as my backup solutions. While I already had a rack of servers in the lab, and a NAS server for storing images of my critical computers, what I needed this time wasn't an image as much as it was access to critical files. I had to have my research notes, test results, and interviews to keep working. Other things needed to be available if the problem continued for a longer period of time, but I could worry about those later.
So the first thing I did was fire up my laptop computer, log into my account at Carbonite, and pull down the files I'd need for the next few days. Because the Carbonite client backs up files as they're created, everything was already there, in the cloud, waiting for me. The next thing I needed to do was solve the problem with the computer that had stopped working.
After a day's worth of calls to Microsoft's tech support failed to solve the problem, I took the computer over to a repair facility, Richards Computer, and paid their techs to figure out what I didn't have time to deal with. They found out that Windows Update had eaten some drivers, notably the display drivers, and that kept the computer from being used. They restored the drivers and had the problem solved the next day.
But during the five days the machine was unavailable, I was able to keep working because I'd created a disaster recovery plan, and I implemented the parts of it I needed. As a result, while the computer problem was a pretty small disaster as these things go, it never slowed my business down, and it never cost me any data. On the other hand, it did put the shop-for-a-new-computer bug in my head, so now I'm checking the sale ads.