OK, that is a somewhat high and mighty title for what I want to talk about. This past week one of my best friends got her home broken into and a number of items stolen. Additionally, that home invasion shook her sense of security and safety. This is probably the greatest loss of any even such as this.
When I was just a kid of around nine or ten, my house was broken into also. The two biggest things I remember are the anger that whoever it was ate the last of my birthday cake, and that I had the feeling that our home was no longer secure. Actually, taking something as personal to me as my birthday came made that insecurity even worse. Here was someone coming in and taking something that was very personal to me but which most others wouldn’t even care about. It really shook me.
Unfortunately there is not much I can do to help my friend with her feelings of invasion. Other than listening and being there for her, this is pretty much out of my reach. What I can help her with, and hopefully you, is the other item they took. You see, they took her laptop with all her work on it.
Once your laptop or computer is gone, there really isn’t much you can do other than give the authorities the serial number and then watch the pawnshops and classifieds. But before you lose it there is a good deal you can do. First, from the strictly mechanical standpoint, make sure it is covered by your homeowners or renters insurance. If you are like many folks, that machine is vital to your cash flow, so make sure you are going to be able to replace it.
Second, and this can be aggravating on a daily basis, make sure that your accounts are password protected. At the very least there should be a password required to get into your account on boot up and to get back to the desktop from screensaver. Yes, it is annoying that you have to type in those seven or eight letters and number, remember your password should be secure, every time you want to access stuff, but that is far better than having a thief make off with all your bank records, emails, client lists, web search history, and so on. Think of it is locking your front door or putting on your seatbelt. It quickly becomes a habit and when you really need it, you will be glad you did.
Third, stop me if you have heard this before, do some backups. On second thought, don’t stop me but listen. We all hear about backups, but most of us never do them. What are you going to do if your hard drive suddenly goes away? Where are all your contacts? Where are you emails? Where is that important project you are working on? At the very least set yourself up a GMail or Hotmail or Yahoo web based email account and send a copy of these items to it every once in a while. Working on a big project every day this week? Then at the end of every work session just email the files to your web based account and let them sit there.
Additionally, once a week or month you should back up your important stuff to CD or DVD and store it off site. The easiest way to do this is to have coffee or lunch with a friend. Seriously! Make a regular standing date with a friend where the two of you will exchange disks. You will store their stuff and they will store yours. And by having that regular appointment set up it will remind you to do the back up. And by having a backup partner, you are both more likely to actually get it done. The key is not how you do the backups, but that you at least do them.
Again, sadly I cannot help you with the feelings of personal loss that come from having your home invaded and your stuff stolen – although if you need a hug just let me know. But, if you take some simple precautions, you can minimize the economic effects of that loss.