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Email Feedback Loops And Some Internet History

[Photo: John W. Furst]
John W. Furst
In 1994 about 14 years ago I started to use the Internet at the University campus. Very quickly Email became one of the most important tools for me and it is still today. However, with the upcoming of spammers and anti-spam measures Email has lost some of it's reliability.

I mean, are you sure you receive all important email messages, or are you sure all your messages you send are received?

I'll show you in a minute what I do to make sure Email works reliably for me, even for most important communication needs. Before that, let me tell you, how it all began for me (scroll down, if you are in a hurry).

How It All Began

Do you remember those times, when the “World Wide Web” and it's HTTP protocol were fairly new. I remember using the following services and protocols to find and research information on the Net. (This was not exactly fun and easy like it is today.)
  • Gopher
  • Archie
  • FTP
  • Email
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Carnival Of Small Business Issues - Edition 30

Update on Apr. 1, 2013: Deleted all entries with outdated tips or broken links.

Welcome to the December 11, 2007 edition #30 of the Carnival Of Small Business Issues.

Canarian - Edition #30 - CoSBI
My name is John and I am your host for this “Canarian Edition”. As this Carnival grows it is getting harder to select articles from the growing number of submissions.

Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Instead of limiting the number of promoted articles to some arbitrary number, like 20, I have decided to give you more, and introduced a new category “Online Marketing Special” just for this edition.

Question of the day: How Would You Promote Innovation? If you are a member of a management team or a business owner, how would you answer this question? Charan “CA” Atreya, the organizer of this Carnival, runs an open answer survey on his blog. If you have something to say, please, do so on his Blog.

If you are interested in hosting this Carnival or submitting a blog post, you'll find more information at the bottom of the page.

Today we have the following categories: Marketing, Online Marketing Special, Human Resource, Operations, Personal Development, Finance, Business Tips
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Protect Your Virtual Business Assets

Is Your Data At Risk?
What will you be doing, if your computer does not boot, your hard drive dies, or your DSL modem goes up in smoke? Can you continue to work? Will your business survive, if your office is flooded?

While most business owners are very aware and active about protecting and insuring their real estate and physical assets, they miss out having the same level of care for their virtual assets and productivity tools, which is the data and applications needed to run their business.

Here are a few “sharp” bullets to think about, some minimum requirements.
  • You will need UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for your desktop/server computer(s) and everything that is connected to it. It's like the battery in your notebook. Just a bit bigger. It also protects your hardware from power surges through lightening.

  • Have two computers setup and ready to work on. Have spares for your staff
  • Have your current data on at least two computers, media, and locations.

    E.g. Online storage accessed from an Internet Cafe could be one solution for a home-office guy, whose Internet line is down for days or his computers have been stolen.

  • Use RAID (your data is on at least two hard-drives) for your desktop/servers. You want a second disk controller, too or true hardware RAID.

  • Anti-Virus and malware protection.
  • OS/Software Upgrade policy.

  • Regularily “burn” data backups. I prefer DVD RAM, it behaves exactly like a hard-drive. On the road I use CD-RW or an USB stick. Offline-Backups are not only for disaster recovery. They are also good for files that you have deleted too quickly!
  • Don't forget about system/configuration data.
  • Have local backups of your online services, like blog database, ...

  • When using online storage or an online Email archive syndicate with your local computer. Don't forget: Two different places, two media, two computers. You don't want to rely on your Internet connectivity as well.

  • TEST your backup strategy.
  • Verify your backup. Randomly check every backup. Sometimes do a full verification.
    Many people waste time doing backup to find out that they are worthless later on. I remember a corporate client, who did backups to tape daily, but none of them was good for a consecutive period of half a year. Till I told them.

Combine those bullets into something that works for you. But keep in mind:
“Simply do not rely on a single point of failure!”

You should setup a process that let's you forget about this stuff otherwise it will become a huge productivity killer in no time. Specific advice needs to be tailored to your work habits and your business. It might be smart to hire a consultant for setting up those procedures, recommending software, etc. Especially, when you're business is already off the ground, but you never thought about this topic.

Otherwise, expand it as you grow.

Some advanced issues you can think about:
  • Categorize data according to importance need for online availability. This will reduce the requirements for a backup plan and has your productivity in mind. You won't need XX% of the data you have stored, again. Might be the famous 80% (Pareto principle 80/20 rule).
  • Encryption and data security. Some critical data should be encrypted on the storage medium!
  • Support for cooperative work
  • Legal requirements for storing financial data, emails, customer data, ...

Thanks to Pat Doyle, who inspired me to write about this subject with her post, “Declare Independence From Your Computer”

John W Furst

This article has been featured in the 2nd edition of the new Carnival of Business and Entrepreneurship (↑) at Bootstrapper (↑)