Poka Yoke for your PC
The Wall Street Journal has an article today about two automated online backup systems, Mozy and Carbonite. Each costs about $50 a year to automatically, in the background, backup your files to a remote online server.
I've had two hard drives crash — one in college (a 20 MEGAbyte hard drive — not enough room to hold one Podcast) and one about three years ago at home. Neither was well backed up. I lost a bunch of digital photos from that most recent crash and I tried to learn my lesson.
I tried burning CD's, then DVD's, on a regular basis, but wasn't real good at remembering. So I put a monthly reminder on my calendar, but that was too easy to ignore. At home, we have a network with a desktop and a laptop PC. I installed the program FolderShare (now owned by Microsoft) that automatically synchs files between two PCs. That keeps all of our files backed up and is OK if the house never burns down. It's automatic, which is the best form of Poka Yoke, right? I might still try one of the online services for extra protection.
Now, for work files, my laptop is incredibly critical. Every month, it seems, someone in my consulting group has a laptop problem where they have to be without. Not always a total HD crash, but something bad enough that it has to be sent in for repair. What do to without your files?
My poka yoke there was an external hard drive, like one of these. For under a hundred bucks, you get some piece of mind. I still have to remember to plug the drive in, which I do weekly or after doing any really critical work. But, I have some nice inexpensive software called Allway Sync that works very well for automatically pulling new/updated files off the laptop onto the portable drive.
I should probably also use an online backup service in case my bag gets stolen and the laptop and drive are BOTH gone. Poka Yoke against theft, in that case.
In fact, I'm going to back up right now! I hope you avoid computer problems and try to use Poka Yoke in your work life as much as you can.
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