After the challenges I had this week with my computer, I thought I would share with you some of the things I could have done to make my life easier. I’m sharing them here because ‘why learn from your own mistakes, when you can learn from others’?’ I’m hoping the information here will assist you in your own operations in your business.
I’ve had the occasional computer hiccup in the past 13+ years but nothing which upset the apple cart as much as this one. I was literally unable to do much client work for a 3 day period which was not of my choosing. I do back up on a regular basis, several times a week, conscious of how much one can lose business or as I’ve read in the past about others, go under, if their data isn’t kept safe – after all, it’s your bread’n’butter! However, there are other things I didn’t have backed up, or kept in one place and this really added to the time involved in getting things working properly again. Here are the areas that need to be looked at:
Usernames and passwords – I had this information in lots of different places and folders but not collectively in one place for quick easy reference. It took me several hours over a 2 day period to collate this list (actually I still keep discovering another, and another, and…) and then test each one as some I had changed and could not remember. In some cases I had to apply for a password hint or the password to get the information and in one case, where I could not remember the username of a blog I own I was not able to retrieve the password as you have to submit both username and email address, not one or the other. In the end I went to the WordPress Support Forum and after some searching found the information that explained where to go into the SQL database to change the password and locate the username – this information came with a warning. I’ll save you the search – here is the link: phpMyAdmin
Bookkeeping – I hadn’t backed up my end of month invoicing the previous night before the crash, and in fact, discovered I hadn’t backed it up for several days. 🙁 I hadn’t posted all of the invoices out so had to re-enter the information and then backtrack to locate the papers I’d filed for payments I’d received during that week so I could once again do a bank statement reconciliation. I also had to ask one client to fax the last page of her invoice so I could re-enter the information. The phone bill for 3 of my clients hasn’t turned up – I expect it was amongst the emails I never got to see on Wednesday morning and now I have to wait for them to re-send it before I can bill those clients – I’ll be getting some late payments this month.
Software – my bookkeeping program has a license number (and matching file), username, Pin and a registration number – all of which have to be entered before I can get the latest version I have working. Additional to that I had to prove I owned the previous version as it was an upgrade and my current computer does not have a floppy drive. I did have all the relevant information but it was a pain having to get the floppy put into another computer, then coax the computer to save it on the hard drive as the floppy was old and very touchy, and transfer the files to my computer via our network. I should add, that whilst re-installing the software is time consuming it wasn’t this that made things take so long and was relatively easy to do. It is important to note that you should always have all your software disks in an easy place to find – preferably the one place.
Client emails – I know a new client had sent an email to me but I didn’t print it off before the computer took a dive. I have no way of knowing how to contact that person or who they were. They probably think I’m another of those people who don’t check their emails or don’t respond to them. I did email all my regulars and my team advising what had happened and the fact that it would be next week before I was fully back on deck again. It’s important to keep people informed rather than let them wonder where you are.
Bookmarks and email rules – none of these were backed up. I naively thought they were with my backups of the relevant programs, but unfortunately the files for these are in a different place on my computer. Do you have any idea how long it takes to recreate rules for Outlook? The rules really help keep my emails in a semblance of order and helps prevent chaos throughout my work days.
Things I have now done to ensure I don’t waste so much time again:
Usernames and passwords – now recorded in one place (and backed up) and printed off and filed with all my computer papers and CDs, along with a complete list of all software that needs installing and in some cases, in which order. ACT! in particular needed certain things installed in a specific order, including updates from online, otherwise I could not get the sync function to work or for it to link with MS Word.
Bookkeeping and other important data – I’ve now created a folder inside My Documents and repointed all important programs to this folder so that I only have to concentrate on backing up the one folder with all its sub-folders and not have to remember which others need backing up. This includes my bookmarks for the web and the rules for Outlook. Further I discovered you can save your bookmarks online when checking all the latest plugins with Firefox (my preferred browser) so I elected to install del.icio.us which will allow me to save my bookmarks on my computer and online at the same time.
It’s now Sunday and I’ve spent today catching up with typing, getting my bookkeeping back up to date and responding to emails. Not my ideal way to spend a Sunday but at least I can start the new week off ready for work and not distracted by trying to get things fixed. Oh, and I did manage a couple of blog posts and you’re reading one of them! 🙂 KMT