My entire business is in my laptop; bar the very occasional phone call, I run everything by email and web and everywhere I go my laptop goes too. Last week my laptop and I spent the week with family in the Hebrides where, although I was officially not working, I was keeping an eye on emails. Or rather I was keeping an eye on emails until my laptop decided to throw a major wobbly and suddenly the mousepad, keyboard, wifi and fan all simultaneously stopped working.

Thank goodness then for plan B.

Small business owners should always plan for the worst case scenario and have a back-up plan. My normal plan B involves backing everything up, including emails, to an external hard drive on a regular basis. However, I also use Carbonite, a cloud-based back up that runs automatically in the background because it doesn’t rely on my input. It’s very easy to postpone the routine business tasks when a deadline is looming and Carbonite ensures that my business gets backed up even when I forget to do it. Obviously for all this to work I also have to have access to another computer, and that’s where an old laptop comes in – set up and ready to run the basics should it be required.

Although pretty much all email can be accessed through webmail these days, if you usually use an email program it’s worth making a note somewhere of any passwords or other settings you might need. The same goes for passwords for social media accounts or other webpages you need for your business. If you are not able to remember all your different passwords, one idea is to keep them all in a separate password protected document on your phone – the chances are you will always have that with you.

Finally, I would recommend having a hard disk caddy available to retrieve your data should it be required and also employing the services of a good IT support company. My local technical wizard is PC@Home and I was extremely relieved when they returned my laptop after only 24 hours having diagnosed the problem, traced it to a problem with the power supply and fixed it. I was happy to be spared the hassle of researching and buying a new work laptop but even happier to have the peace of mind that should that have been necessary I would have been able to continue to provide my normal standard of service to my clients.

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