Disaster can strike a computer at any moment. Threats such as hardware failures, viruses, national disasters, defective hard drives or power surges can destroy data or hardware in the blink of an eye.
A vital safeguard against a disaster is frequent data backups that are stored in a different location than the computer. In addition, information such as usernames and configuration information along with media, downloads and product keys should be documented and stored in a safe location. This ensures a quick recovery after a disaster.
One method of documenting the computer information is to create a disaster recovery binder that includes all the documentation. The last thing anyone wants in the middle of a disaster is to search for a CD or be stuck on hold with technical support waiting for a product key.
Below is a checklist of the data that should be stored in the binder. This list will vary for each user depending on the configuration of their computer.
DSL, broadband and dial-up settings such as username or phone number. Also, keep a recent copy of software necessary to connect to Internet.
A listing of all software installed on the computer.
Special instructions for installing software. This could include notes on issues or problems that occurred installing the software in the past.
The settings for accessing email via Outlook, Outlook Express or a different email client. Includes information provided by Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as address of email server, username and password.
Copies of the newest drivers for the hardware components of the computer. Includes monitor, CD-ROM drive, DVD drive, printers and mouse/keyboard.
Installation Keys / Registration
A listing of the installation keys or registration information necessary to install software. Not all software requires a key for installation.
Copy any software that was downloaded and installed to either a DVD, CD or flash drive.
Document any updates or upgrades that have been applied to installed software.
Copies of Installation Media
Make copies of all installation media for any software that is installed. This ensures that if the original media is corrupted the software can still be installed.
Document usernames for email, internet access and web sites. Not recommended that the passwords be documented in the same location.
Make copies of the warranty, order information and proof of purchase in case the vendor needs to be contacted for support.
To create the disaster recovery notebook start by following the checklist to gather the necessary information. Also, add in any additional information that is not on the checklist that is necessary to rebuild the computer. Use a word processor to create the documentation and include a printout and a backup of the file in the binder.
Next, makes copies of all installation media by burning copies to CDs or copying to floppy disks. Make sure to label all backup installation media with the contents, date and version.
Use a three ring binder to store all the printouts, CDs and floppy disks. There are special inserts that can be used to hold the CDs and floppy disks. For added insurance, create two binders – one to keep with the computer and one store off-site in a secure location such as a safety deposit box.