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Disaster Recovery – Lessons Learned the Hard Way


In past issues of this newsletter, I have written about a variety of ways to protect you from the disaster of losing your data. Regrettably, on a recent business trip, my laptop was stolen. While I was not happy about this, and that I would have to replace my laptop, I was confident that within a couple of hours I would be back up to speed. This of course turned out to be far from the truth so I am now sharing with you lessons I learned the hard way.

The reason that I was very confident of my ability to be back in business shortly was that my clients’ data was all in the cloud and not stored locally on my laptop. What I stored on my laptop I believed I could restore that from my hard drive using Time Machine and from Carbonite.

Here is what I learned:

Timing does matter – start with restoring the last back up you have on your external hard drive. I followed the advice of the genius at the Apple store and first began restoring programs I purchased from Apple online. I was advised after I completed that to download any programs purchased from other vendors sites. This turned out to be a total waste of a few hours because choosing to restore from my external hard drive using Time Machine overwrote all of the existing programs I downloaded.

Lesson – restore from your external hard drive first if it is a fairly recent back up

Backup daily – I either did not follow my own advice or got overconfident for other reasons and did not back up daily to my external hard drive every day. My primary reason for not doing so was that I also had Carbonite backing up anything that I saved on my laptop. If I had backed up daily, I would have probably restored everything in two hours. When advantage that I have is that with Windows restoring programs is always difficult and very time-consuming. For Apple users this is totally effortless as everything is restored from Time Machine.

Lesson – back up daily to your external hard drive – no excuses!

 and Restore intelligently – this wound up being my biggest mistake. What I should’ve done from the start was just restore from Time Machine which was a month old and then selectively restore using date filters from Carbonite When you lose your computer a sense of panic overcomes you and as in my case, sometimes you do not think so clearly!

I made the mistake of restoring everything from Carbonite. Not only did this start to attempt to duplicate everything I had restored from Time Machine, but it caused huge problems as it began to restore everything that was in Dropbox. This is because Carbonite makes a copy every time you do anything. For example, if you create a folder in Dropbox and then decide to move the folder someplace else, Carbonite has both in its memory. When you restore from Carbonite it puts it in both places. For me, this caused tremendous amounts of duplication that I had to undo file by file as well as trying to determine what was in my Dropbox prior to my laptop being stolen.

Lessons – restore first from your external hard drive and then use Carbonite to restore those files that were not backed up. Any files you had in Dropbox that were not restored by the above process can be restored from their website.

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