You've got a flight to catch tomorrow at 6 AM and it's already 7 PM. Grab your notebook and head home? Not yet. It will take a few more minutes, but if you follow this checklist you can settle into tomorrow's flight with the full knowledge that no matter what high-tech disaster befalls you, you've got a backup plan.
- Write down the tech-support number for your notebook-computer maker, as well as the serial number on the machine and any other tech-support numbers for software you rely on.
- Record your online service's local access numbers for the cities you're visiting. There's no sense in making a long distance call — at outrageous hotel rates — just to get a few email messages.
- Now stash this list of phone numbers in your wallet. If your computer crashes, you'll have the contacts to get you out of trouble.
- Change your voice-mail message to let callers know you're out of the office (you don't have to say where). It's really annoying to call someone when you're on deadline, only to find out later that their entire department was away on an off-site.
- Set up your desktop computer for remote access, so you can retrieve important files (See "Software"). Set the appropriate passwords and make sure you can dial into your PC.
- Copy all the files you'll need from your desktop machine or company network to your notebook computer. Leave this for the last minute — files and data keep changing.
- Now copy the same exact files to a floppy disk and keep the disc separate from your laptop. If your notebook is lost or stolen, you can still work on the floppy's files or print them out at a local Kinko's.
A version of this article appeared in the April/May 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.