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How I Safeguard My Work and Prepare for Disasters

Backing Up Your Data and My Work

I keep the client's original files both in a separate directory for the project on my hard drive and in the original e-mail with which the client assigned the project. In addition, I keep a hard copy of the assignment e-mail and/or PO, as well as any special instructions the client might have sent. On that copy I also note the translation memory and glossar(ies) used for that project, as well as its due date and the date and time I sent the completed work to the client. This gives me a physical reference of the scope of work and resources used, which is also useful if a follow-up assignment arrives. A quick look at the client's file and I can ensure that I use the same glossaries and translation memory as I did for the prior project, which in turn ensures consistent use of terminology.

After stopping work on a project for longer than a brief break, I back all project files up to a thumbdrive in a separate folder for each client. I also back up the completed project there. Over time, this provides me with a complete collection of all projects completed for this client during the calendar year. Since I keep these thumbdrives and the associated hard copy of instructions, etc., for 5 years, I can refer back to prior projects should a follow-up assignment arrive years later. (Note: Some clients require me to delete such backups and destroy the hard copies. I do comply with such requests, but then obviously do not have the capacity to look up prior projects for these clients.)

In addition, my entire client directory is backed up to a secure online storage site (provided by Norton, the antivirus software company) every night. Every Thursday, all files that changed on my hard drive during the week are backed up to a network-attached external hard drive. These measures ensure easy access to all information -- both pending work and invoicing/payment data, as well as translation memories and glossaries -- should my primary computer crash. Since I also have a second laptop with most of the same software I have on my primary machine (including a second copy of SDL Trados) a potential computer failure should cause only a short disruption in work on my current projects (long-term, of course, it would be a big headache).

Preparing for Service Interruptions

My primary computer is a powerful 17" laptop with a battery saving setting. I also have a second, light-weight "travel" laptop. Between the two machines I can work for 6-8 hours even if my electricity is interrupted. Other safety measures for such outages include uninterruptible power supplies for my computer, printer and business telephone line, as well as for the network router and cable modem. These power supplies permit orderly shutdown of systems in the event of an abrupt power failure, minimizing the chances of corrupted files or damage to equipment.

Should my broadband internet connection fail, I can take my laptop to several cafes with free wireless internet access which are located within a few subway stops and are open until 1 am. And there's also my smartphone, where I can communicate with clients by e-mail or phone, even if I am not in the office or there is no power. That smartphone can even be used as a modem for e-mailing files, if none of the Wi-Fi cafes were available or open.

Now if all of the U.S. Northeast is without power for days, as happened a few years ago, my best emergency plans will be for naught. But then, there are some things I simply cannot make provisions for ...