Monday, August 31, 2009


You know the principle of insurance I'm sure. You subscribe to a risk pool and your premiums are determined by the probability of you collecting on your policy. A large pool of low risk folks mean low premiums for good coverage.

I've been fortunate for all of my car-owning years to have been eligible for a great automobile insurance provider called USAA. They were a group of former military officers who banded together to offer car insurance that considered the realities of military service as we got reassigned around the world. The fact that we were young, fit and professionals made us a low risk pool for claims. We maintained our cars, drove with reasonable care and could ruin a career with a reckless accident, a bad driving record or a DUI. The result was excellent insurance at a rate that caused competing companies to simply abandon their sales pitch when they called to offer a quote. I told them I was with USAA and they simply said, "never mind."

Over time USAA expanded into home owners insurance, life insurance, mutual funds and now banking. They've done a good job across the board and made profits for both the shareholders and the membership.

Medicare is another illustration but with government interference. Large pool is established by government mandate. If you get paid wages, you get Medicare withheld. Difference is that paying into the program doesn't get you coverage until you are over 65. So, high risk population, but large contributing pool anyway. Even then you see the system in peril because of expanding bureaucracies, increased longevity, rising costs of high-tech care and the inevitable social engineering of politicians with a pot of money in view and an electorate to woo.

Which brings me to the trigger for today's item. Do you back up your hard drive? Ever? C'mon, be honest. OK, you did last Christmas didn't you? Could you replace all the stuff on your computer if it died? What if the house burned down? Could your business survive?

I've been computer toying for more than 20 years now. It was a fact of life that hard drives died about twice as often as computers and the beige box died every three years. We've gotten a lot better, but we've also got a lot more data. You may have never had a drive crash, but how would you cope if you did?

I heard Rush Limbaugh pitching Carbonite. Automated internet backup taking place in the background for less than $5 a month. Seems like cheap insurance.

I took a look on their site. Carbonite. The data is encrypted. You can let them handle the encryption key through a third party, so the Carbonite folks don't have access to your key and you don't need to worry about maintaining it yourself. If your business data needs your involvement in the encryption, than you can choose to handle the encryption key yourself--just be sure you can get at it when you need it.

There is a small download and it takes mere seconds to setup on your computer. The intial backup may take several days. It doesn't slow your machine down, it operates when you aren't taking up data bandwidth and you can watch the progress on the interface. After the initial backup is completed, your data is kept recent and current continually and without any effort on your part.

Revisions to files are all kept so you can back track if you need to recapture something after it has been replaced. A click on the status bar icon gets you an interface to search your backup drive if you need to recover something. Easy search and simple access seems to be handled.

I don't know how complex file recovery is after a hard drive failure. It is the same with my car insurance, I don't know how quickly I can be in a replacement vehicle if I total my current wheels. I hope I don't have to learn. I've researched reviews and user experience and the reports are good about recoveries, so I'm feeling secure about the system. It is now something I don't have to worry about and I get if for the price of a Sam Adams each month. That's insurance.


Buzz Barron said...

Interestingly, me and my retired Gunny listen to Rush as well. Forever I've had a 4 Meg...I think memory stick, more like a box as it's bigger, and have downloaded all my documents and pictures onto that...that way I can carry that to another city and not the whole computer... But, we're now installing Carbonite on all our office also saves all your Outlook stuff if you use, thanks. We don't know if it works or not either. I had several volunteers, BSA types, from USAA when I worked in San Antonio. General Charles McDermit??? Long time ago

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