Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Are you ready for your house to burn down?

What happens to your carefully backed up data if your house burns down?

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!


This is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of
the many questions I get at

In a recent podcast entitled “Are you ready for your computer to be
stolen” I discussed the needs for not only backing up, but encrypting
your sensitive data. Losing it is one thing, but having sensitive
personal data in the hands of thief is just as scary if not more

So by now you’re all backing up regularly, and keeping those backups
in a safe place, right?

A safe place … in your house? In the same structure as your

So what happens to all those backups and those computers should your
house burn to the ground? Or a flood damage everything? Or a mudslide
bury it in goo?

Backing up isn’t enough. You need to store copies of your backups
off-site. Somewhere physically different than your business or
computer’s location. That way if the worst happens you still have your
data safely backed up.

Somewhere else.

It doesn’t have to be hard. Every so often, burn an extra backup CD
and give it to a friend or family member.

My wife operates a retail business where I also maintain the
computer equipment. So some time back I purchased two identical 250
gigabyte Maxtor external USB/firewire drives. The computers here at Ask
Leo central (my home), and at my wife’s business each have one. Each
night data is backed up to those drives. Then every so often I swap the
drives. That way not only is my home data backed up off-site, at the
store, but the store’s data is also backed up off-site … here at

Whatever your solution, I strongly recommend considering your
disaster plan. Especially if your business depends on it.

You’ll find links to the articles and resources I’ve mentioned in
the shownotes. Visit and enter 8604 in the go to article
number box on the home page. You can also comment on this podcast, or
any of my articles … I’d love to hear from you.

This is a presentation of, a free on-line technical
question and answer service. Hundreds of questions and answers are
online and ready to help solve your computer problems. New questions
and answers are added daily.


Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

2 comments on “Are you ready for your house to burn down?”

  1. I agree this needs to be done and already have a process to achieve it. I note that you recommend Acronis. Personally I find it difficult to understand and instead use Ghost 14.

    The most important point to me is that for disaster recovery backups you should NOT be reliant on products using propietary file systems (e.g Ghost, Acronis). I use GFI backup (there are several others) as it saves files in their native format. In the unlikely event you have to restore them, you only have to copy them via Windows Explorer.

    If you are already in deep trouble there is no point in compounding things by having to install (and possibly buy) software to decode essential stored data.

  2. I have no idea how this could have happened but it did. I had 2 external hard drives. I go south in the winter and have a desktop at each location. Last April, when I got back north, neither external drive could be read. I figured I’m only missing 6 months data and I’ll get it back when I go south in the fall. Got down here in October and my desktop hard drive is fried. I don’t know whether to scream or cry or what. So, now I’m going to use an external drive and dvds, put most important files on a thumb drive and the top 2 gigs on a free online storage. I don’t know what else I can do…..


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.