You will experience a system failure sometime. As a computer professional, I know this and take the steps necessary to protect myself, but it still happened in December – twice!

The first time was a failure of the Windows operating system. Being diligent, I had (most of) my data backed up to an external hard drive, thus this was mostly an inconvenience when Dell told me I had to reformat my hard disk, re-install Windows, and start over. I even had my software installation keys saved in a separate file so I could re-install the various programs I had purchased via download. All except one – my McAfee anti virus software. Since I had lost my record of this purchase during the computer crash, they refused to talk to me.

After several days of re-building my laptop and transferring my backups, now I have a clean hard drive with newly re-installed software. According to Tiger Direct, here are the costs for re-building your data on a 20 Gigabyte hard drive (mine was 300Gb):

Sales and marketing 19 days $17,000
Accounting 21 days $19,000
Engineering 42 days $98,000

As a software developer, I easily fall into the engineering category. I was back in business – or so I thought. But one of the features of many modern programs, including Windows, is that they automatically check to see if there are updates available. Sure enough, the Microsoft site installed a virus on my computer (they would never admit that of course and it has since been corrected). Of course I still didn’t have my anti-virus working because McAfee wouldn’t let me re-install their software. Now nothing worked! I had to start over again! Only this time, some of my files, including my email folder had been infected. Weeks later, I have gotten everything back, but it was not easy, and it would not have been possible without backups. I have now added another layer of backups to my routine. And I use a different anti-virus other than McAfee.

So what does this have to with ecommerce websites? Everything! Even if you are running a website and all your data is stored on an offsite server, it is critical that you make your own backups yourself. If a hacker ever finds his way into your database or deletes all your images and html pages you will be glad you did.