The holidays are approaching quickly and I’m seeing the usual trends. My work with residential clients is winding down for the year while my corporate clients are keeping me hopping with spending the last of the year’s budgets before the rapidly approaching deadline. The funny thing is the fact that my corporate clients are generally on a pretty solid technology base, having had consistent IT support throughout the year, while the residential clients are actually the ones adding new technology without the thought of the infrastructure required to sustain it.
Normally infrastructure is a word that people associate with corporate networks and information technology. Infrastructure is the backbone of the network, the ‘back end’, encompassing the equipment, systems and processes that help keep the actual ‘front end’ equipment running smoothly. What’s the difference?
We all know the front-end equipment. It’s what we use and what we play with at home. iTunes, game software, printers and the sweet machine we’ve built to play the most modern and immersive games. All of these devices have to be supported by the back-end.
How does that multiplayer online game work? From your PC, the data travels to a switch (if you have multiple devices) then to a router before flitting off to the Internet. If any of those devices fail or are underpowered, the front-end experience suffers.
Let’s discuss some of the back-end equipment and systems I think every home user should be thinking about this holiday season.
How much storage space do you have? These are your hard drives, where actual data is stored. Data can be anything from the mass of songs purchased through the online music service to the photos and videos from your family event.
Ask these questions:
1. Do I have enough storage space? Do I need to add an external hard drive for storage?
2. What happens if any of these devices fail? Can I recover the data?
We gather data because we want to keep it. Sounds like a simple concept. We take pictures because we want to look at them later just as we download songs because we want to listen to them down the road. The storage systems we use today in modern computing are prone to failure, so we have to have a system in place for that eventuality.
Ask these questions:
1. What am I willing to lose?
2. For the items not falling into question 1, how are you protecting them?
If you’ve read any of my articles in the past, you probably know that I’m going to give you a lecture about backing up your data. You’re certainly in the right on that point, but I’m going to also give you some insight about where I’m coming from. As a computer consultant with more years under my belt than I usually like to admit, I’ve found that the most effective thing I can do to as a business is to keep my customers happy. Customers are always happy when I can provide the newest technology, bells and whistles. It all falls down though if the fancy accounting system I installed crashes and all of their financial data is lost. Recommending good backup strategies help me keep customers, both residential and corporate. The biggest addition they bring to my bottom line is helping me keep that customer after disaster eventually hits. I hate to tell a customer that they’ve lost data and I’ve had to do just that far more often than I like.
Think about your back-end at home. You love the front-end toys and gizmos, so keep up the care and feeding of the systems that make them work.
— The Backup Master