Why Hardware Redundancy?
More people are making their livings from home offices today than ever before. Some jobs are exclusively telecommuting, such as teaching for online universities and freelance writing. Others involve online retail sales through various supporting sites. However one makes a living online, the key factor is to keep up and running all the time, or at least during working hours.
Take a tip from an old Unix systems administrator who used to work for big companies. You need to have hardware redundancy to ensure that your home-based online business is reliably available. Hardware redundancy means having two computers, two broadband lines, an extra network switch if a Local Area Network (LAN) is used and any other critical hardware component that business availability depends upon. The most important redundancy is having at least two working computers. Keyboard, mice and monitor should be considered components to keep redundant as well. These can be covered by having two laptops.
Hardware Redundancy Example
My setup has two small form-factor desktops running the same operating system and identical applications. With a Keyboard-Video-Mouse (KVM) switch, I get away with using only one monitor, one keyboard and one trackball for both systems. I have the systems sharing files and a printer through a switched and wired network. My two broadband providers are DSL and cable.
Avoiding the Hardware Failure Panic
The whole idea behind hardware redundancy is to quickly swap out a failed component, leaving it to be repaired or replaced later. Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will. MacGillicuddy’s Corollary adds that this will happen at the most inopportune times. In other words, when that highly lucrative gig needs the most immediate attention, computer or some key component failure will result in extreme anxiety, short temper and the likelihood of paying far too much for an emergency replacement.
Tips for Saving Money
You do not need to spend too much for hardware redundancy. Purchasing refurbished equipment at deep discounts is smart, especially since Murphy’s Law has already applied to the equipment. This lowers the chances of another failure. Also, buying a step or two down from the most current technology tends to be a great deal less expensive. Instead of a gigabit network switch, a 100 megabit switch will likely do just fine. I use an inexpensive PC netbook as my traveling and Disaster Recovery (DR) machine. It would be possible to run exclusively on the netbook for a limited amount of time as well, which makes my setup even more redundant.
What Is DR?
DR is a common business practice for both large and small companies. The concept is to be able to keep the business running from some remote location in the event of natural or manmade disasters. Floods, ice storms, earthquakes, and fires are natural disasters. Terrorist attacks and the evil backhoe driver cutting through a major fiber optic trunk are manmade disasters.
I keep all my working files in one folder on my desktop. For a low fee, I back all the working files up to the web, which makes DR a snap for me. All I have to do is grab the netbook, get out of the disaster area, find a motel with Internet and download my working files. Boom! I’m back up and running with minimum downtime.
I absolutely love web email. This is smart for DR as well, since all the mail is kept out there in the Internet cloud within highly secure data centers designed for strong DR. None of my email is kept on local hard disk drives. This particular service lets me synch the email among my machines, as well as bookmarks.