Have you thought about what you would do if your IT has a meltdown, would you be able to continue to work? Here are a few thoughts and actions you could take to enable you to get working again as quickly as possible.

What if your PC crashes

Let’s start with your PC. If a component in your PC dies and the PC will no longer boot up, it is going to take a while to get a replacement and get it set up. So, what could you do to ensure you do not have to explain to a customer that an urgent piece of work is going to have to wait a few days?

A man working on a PC that blows up and therefore the computer is inoperable and a back up is needed.

If you are using a desktop PC in the office you probably have a laptop that you use when you are at meetings or working from home. If not, have you considered getting one as a back up? Or do you have another PC somewhere in the house or office you can take over at a moment’s notice? It is a good idea to ensure that this second laptop/PC is set up exactly as your main PC.

  • Ensure email is set up on the second PC so that the same email client, eg Outlook, will enable you to carry on accessing your email messages. At least be ready with the login and browser details for the web access to this email account.
  • Can you access all your files? If you only store everything on the PC that has died you are not going to be able to get going again rapidly. However, if you have a back-up plan (see below) make sure the back-up PC is set up ready to access these files.
  • If your main PC is accessing your company’s network folders make sure your back-up PC can do the same (this will cut out having to try to get hold of the IT department at a moment’s notice).
  • If your desktop has a separate screen, keyboard and mouse you can still use these with a laptop but just make sure that the laptop has the right ports and you know how to connect them.

Just so you are aware, if your back-up PC is mainly used by another family member, for example, you can set up another account on that PC and set it up as explained above. You do not need to disrupt how they use that PC.

If you have a tablet and mobile many of your services could be accessed via these devices but probably wouldn’t enable you to continue your normal working day. Although, you can connect keyboards to some tablets. Again, be prepared with the keyboard you need and how you would connect it in readiness.

How to make use of your screen, keyboard and mouse

If you use a desktop PC it might just be the screen or keyboard or mouse that have stopped working and these are much quicker to replace. It is a good idea to have a note of what you would need to replace together with a note or photograph of the ports you have on the desktop PC and cables you would need before going to PC World and so on.

If, of course, the screen or keyboard on a laptop dies then unfortunately you would have to be prepared with a back-up PC but if you have an independent screen or keyboard available you could plug this in and still keep going until you can get a replacement laptop.

Same applies if your printer fails, make sure you know how you would connect a new printer to your PC.

A desktop PC with screen, keyboard and mouse showing them as independent entities that can be replaced or used with a laptop.

Can your PC be repaired?

If your desktop, laptop screen or keyboard break down sometimes they can be repaired and this may be cheaper than getting a replacement. Do you have a phone number for someone you can contact? It’s a good idea to do some research and have a couple of companies available to ring to ask for emergency help.

Do you have a back-up of your passwords?

Do you have a back up of the passwords you use for all your accounts? And using one password for every account is not a back up :). There are some excellent online companies providing this service. That way you only have to remember one password. Make sure the back-up device you are going to use is set up to access this service or at least have a note of the website address and login details.

If you are using a local password application make sure the software is loaded on to the back-up PC and you can access a back-up of the file storing the passwords.

Vital access to our eMail

For all of us, one of the most vital parts of being able to continue working is being able to access our email messages. So, ensure you have access to the login details for all your email accounts and you know how to access the webmail for these accounts. If a third party has set these up for you make sure they have given you all the login details you need.

Most of us now use cloud based email accounts which means our messages are synchronised across all our devices. However, if this is not the case for your email set up make sure you have a back up of the file that stores your email messages, eg the Outlook data file.

What is your back-up plan?

Do you store all your files on the one PC? If that PC dies it is going to take a long time to get yourself going again. So, what can you do to be prepared?

  • Using cloud storage, such as OneDrive, Dropbox and so on, is a good way to ensure you always have access to your files from any device. Be ready with the login details of these accounts so you can access them from any device.
Microsoft OneDrive logo. OneDrive provides you with cloud storage and is great for backing up your files.
  • Back up your files regularly to an external device such as a USB drive or an external hard drive. Ensure this is easily accessible and that it can plug into your back-up PC. Having a back-up on an alternative device will protect you from ransomware attacks, remember “if you have a back-up you can’t be ransomed”.
An example of an external hard drive that can be connected to you PC via a USB port and used to store a back up your files.

Sorry for the doom and gloom but also think what you would do if your office was broken into or you had a fire. If the devices storing your back-ups are in the same place then you might lose those too. So, it’s a good idea to store these back-ups with a friend or family member or even a safe deposit box :). If you use cloud storage for your complete back-up or you back up to your company’s network then you don’t have to worry about this. You just need the login details stored somewhere else. Personally, I would have both, you can never have too many back-ups.

While on the topic of back-ups, do you know if your website is being backed up? Do you have the login details to your own website? Hopefully, the answer is “yes” to these questions, otherwise it’s a good idea to get in touch with whoever is looking after your website and make sure you know.

Hope this has been useful information and has got you thinking. If there is anything in this blog that you would like clarified please feel free to email or call me. It is also worth mentioning that if you work for a company or you have a contract with an IT support company make sure you know what their disaster recovery plan is for you.

IT disaster recovery plan check list

To finish off, here is a check list to help you create your IT disaster recovery plan so you are ready in case the worst happens.

  • Email accounts – log in details available – URL, user name and password
  • Website – log in details available – URL, user name and password
  • Passwords – log in details available – URL, user name and password (or password file backed up)
  • Back up PC/laptop – selected or purchased
    • Software installed and set up
    • Email client set up to send/receive email
    • Access to back up files
    • Access to my company’s network (if relevant)
  • Back ups
    • Back-ups scheduled at regular intervals
    • Back-up located in an external location to office
    • PC repairs – details of companies providing this service available externally of PC