Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's Your Backup?

Yesterday's Blackberry outage brings to mind our communications backup plans. The cellular networks have various forms of backup: emergency power, alternative backbone and redundant equipment. But as the most recent failure underscores, we can really only depend on our own resources.

Fortunately, Research In Motion's Blackberry outages have been reasonably short, which begs the question, how much do we really suffer from an outage? Sure we can't communicate for a few hours, and even more distressing, we don't know how long our email will be down. But do we really suffer? If the answer is "yes," then we need a "Plan B."

Our family has a standby wireless phone in the glove box of each car and they get used once or twice a year. It's not the actual communications, it's the piece of mind. And if you can't live for more than a few minutes without being in touch, you either need to explore your backup options or make sure you don't have serious personal issues. A backup could be as simple as any email- or web-capable cell phone. For that, a simple prepaid phone could fill the bill. Even simpler is having your connection information on the thumb drive that's always in your pocket, right? They pose as key chains these days. Then, any nearby computer could get you back in contact long enough to let you know your world is still turning, and your messages aren't lost.

Of course as soon as you realize you are incommunicado, the best course of action may be to head to the golf course.

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