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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Small Business - Disaster-Proofing Strategies for Organizing Your Software

Recently, my computer crashed and needed to go to the Computer Hospital. I am fortunate to be a customer for a REALLY good information technology customer service company. They built my desktop for me and sold me my laptop and have kept both of them running for a number of years.

This time, it was Freddie, the desktop that had the problems.

As it turned out, Freddie needed a new video card (this was why he had crashed) and a new DVD burner (I had known about this but had been dragging my heels about getting it fixed).

The big surprise of the day, however, was the need for a complete Windows re-install!;-(

This meant that I would have to reinstall all of my other computer programs. Yikes!

In my case, this is usually more time consuming than traumatic, simply because I have planned ahead for this eventuality.

If you think about it, programs needing to be reinstalled generally come in two flavors:

Programs on hard media, such as disks
Programs in digital format only

Here is how I handle each type of program:

Programs on Hard Media, Such as Disks

Many time, these programs come in a box. The disks themselves are often stored in a paper or cardboard sleeve which may have important information on it, such as the Registration number.

If the Registration information is on the box, I CAREFULLY copy it onto the sleeve AND the disk using a WATERPROOF marker.
If the Registration information is on the sleeve, I CAREFULLY copy it onto the disk using a WATERPROOF marker.
I get rid of the box and put the disk, sleeve, and any other paperwork, such a manual, registration info or anything else into a ziplock bag.
All of the programs, in their ziplock bags, are kept in a large, plastic, water-proof box, clearly labeled with the computer that they belong to.
This storage box also includes all of the software and information related to the hardware installed on the computer.

If I need to relocate myself and my computers, due to a disaster, I take the computers and grab the water-proof boxes and I am ready to go. I have the wherewith all to rebuild my computer systems in the event of a worst case scenario.

Programs in Digital Format Only

Programs that come in only digital format offer a different set of challenges. Here is what I do...

First, I create a folder named TinkComputerLoaded-Date.

Because I have multiple hard drives on my desktop system, I keep this on the main data drive, NOT on the Operating System drive.

As soon as I purchase a new piece of software:

1) I create a folder inside of the TinkComputerLoaded-Date

2) I name that folder with the software name.

3) The software download goes straight into that folder

4) I create a plain text file and put it in the software folder also.

It includes the following information:

The purchase details: purchase date and price, payment method, website purchase was made from
Any registration codes or similar info
Any other information or notes I feel are important. Sometimes this includes notes about using or installing the software, where the application data is stored, or anything else that seems important.

5) When I install the software:

I either activate it from that folder and let it install into the Windows Program folder or I copy the.exe file into the Windows Program folder and execute it from there

6) I make sure that the TinkComputerLoaded-Date folder is included in all of my system data backups

Another Hint from Tink

I also use a nifty little piece of software called Belarc Advisor, which is easily found by searching Google.

Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, including Microsoft Hotfixes and software serial numbers, and shows the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any Web server.

Being able to create and keep this information is particularly important if you are having your computer system worked on by a company or individual you may not trust completely.

Use Belarc Advisor to print a list of the hardware and software installed on your system BEFORE it goes into the shop. Print out a list AFTER you get the computer back and compare the two. This will let you know if unscrupulous compute techs have removed high quality components from your system and replaced them without your permission!

I try to keep a relatively up to date printout in my Program Storage box, so I know what software I had installed on the computer. This saves me time in the event of a catastrophic crash, because I don't have to rely on my memory! LOL

With the proper application of time, effort, and money, these problems CAN be fixed or remedied, by you or someone you hire... but only if you have the RIGHT info! For more vital information you should be tracking to keep your Online business safe, check out my Survival Course - Disaster-proof your Online Business:


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