Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Reminder About Triple-Redundant Back-Up Plans

Sometimes I am so prepared I amaze myself.  Other times I am so unprepared I want to smack myself in the head.  Case in point, Yahoo email has been down since Sunday night (even though the article says it went down late Monday evening--it was more like Sunday).  This wouldn't have been a problem for most people (the most people who use GMail for example) but since I have had Yahoo mail since the dark ages--about 15 years and counting--it turned into a problem for me.

Besides missing a couple of important emails, I needed to quickly access a couple of addresses which are kept in my Yahoo email contacts.  I couldn't access these addresses through my computer or through my tablet or cell phone.  Then I remembered I had exported the contact info into an .xls file.  Seeking this file out though I realized that #1 the last time I backed up this file in was in early 2010 and #2 that some of the important information, like the overseas addresses that I needed which don't fit the standard data format anyway, was missing.  With a bit of searching (which included digging a recently received package out of the garbage can to get the sender's address and digging though an old box of letters for another) I was able to get the addresses I needed and sent the packages on their way.

Needless to say, the triple-redundant back-up plan would have saved me quite a bit of aggravation.

To remedy this problem, whenever you are doing something, think "how would I do this if I couldn't use this particular process?".   Examples:

  • If you are frying up a steak on the stove, consider that you could also fry this steak on the outdoor grill if the stove didn't work and if neither of those worked you could fire up the camp stove.
  • If you are using toilet paper in the bathroom you may consider using a box of wet wipes if there is no toilet paper or using a pee rag or (as many people do around the world) use your hand.
  • If you are driving to work, you my consider alternate means of transportation, not only to use in an emergency if your car breaks down but these alternate methods could actually save you a lot of money if used regularly (ie: take the city bus, ride your bike, walk, car pool, etc).
  • If you are shopping consider what would happen if the system goes down and you can't use your credit card to pay for a purchase (hint: would a different type of card work such as AmEx instead of Visa or Mastercard, do you have cash in your wallet or a reserve check?  If not, you can always pull out the hidden $100 in cash you always carry for emergencies).
  • If the power goes out how would you keep the family entertained?  If you can't use electronic means to entertain them consider alternatives such as musical instruments, playing cards, books, outside games such as hide and seek or tag or basketball, etc.
In my case, there are a number of things I should have done in order to avoid the aggravation of Yahoo mail going down.  I should have (will):
  • Made sure all of the contacts I have on Yahoo mail are also in GMail as well (that way I could have sent out a message to people I was expecting emails from about the situation).
  • Backed up all of my contacts electronically (in something other than a ,xls file) and then checked to be sure that all of the information was actually backed up and not missing.
  • Printed out a hard copy of all of my contacts and kept it in a file folder.
Triple's a good thing.

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