By Dean Whittaker

We have all heard of “the cloud” when it comes to computing, but few of us fully appreciate the risk associated with it. This month we had a bit of a set-back when we learned the vendor that hosted our lead-tracking application had experienced a “cascading equipment failure”. In layman’s terms, this means that the server that was hosting our web application had a short circuit which destroyed the computer and the disk drives that contained our application and the data in it. Despite the redundancy of their system, the back-up had not been done, and as a result we lost the most current work we had completed.

The good news is that we are now hosted on a much more robust server, Amazon AWS, which is backed up daily, weekly, and monthly at multiple locations. However, as we also saw last week, there were two major service disruptions because of the Internet itself which remains unexplained.

Our dependence on technology, and in particular computer technology, increases daily. As our interconnectedness grows, we will be increasingly dependent on technology. As with any technology, it will fail over time. The proverbial “black swan” at the edge of the statistical bell curve is a rare event that will eventually happen. We can manage this risk through more and more elaborate backup systems, but those too will fail at times. Managing risk in the digital age has its challenges.

So, a few words to the wise: Back up your work locally, and trust by verifying that your vendors are backing up your data. Test your backup system to know that they will work in an emergency when they are needed. Thanks to the hard work, quick response, and much appreciated dedication of our software vendor, along with our research team, we have recovered. Have you backed-up your work?