By Ron Daly, President/CEO
My Virtual StrongBox, Inc.

A decade ago, when you wanted to show someone pictures of your kids or grandkids, you’d pull a few pictures out of your wallet. Today, we turn on our phones and share the latest video of the baby taking his first steps or the first-grader losing her first tooth.

It also hasn’t been very long since you’d gather up your pile of receipts, W-2s and 1099 statements so you could prepare for tax season. Now, many of those items are sent to you electronically and stored on your computer.

Life is a lot easier in many ways … until something happens, like a lost phone, a crash on your hard drive crash or a flooded basement. That’s when you realize the value of regularly backing up your files and securely storing photos. Backed-up data can mean the difference between a few minutes to restore important documents – or miserable hours and hours trying to recreate missing files, some of which are lost forever.

A casual comment sparks a movement

In Spring 2011, a few Reddit fans launched the first World Backup Day by posting the catch-phrase, “Don’t be an April Fool” – a humorous reminder for people to protect their computer files. Now a full-fledged cause, the initiative’s goals are to promote the importance of backing up data, not only to allow recovery but as a way to preserve our increasingly more digital culture.

Everyone knows we should backup files – but we often let it slide until we have more time, thinking “what are the odds something will happen between now and then?” Some experts say that’s like deciding that you’ll pay your car insurance tomorrow and having a wreck today! Few of us would take that chance, yet months could go by without backing up our multitude of digital devices.

The risk is real, so help your members protect themselves

According to a 2015 Consumer Reports study, 2.1 million smartphones were stolen in 2014, and another 3.1 million were lost. And a Backblaze report showed that hard-drive failure rates are 4.81% on average. Most drives crash after six years, but the rates go up significantly after four.

Add in other risks like natural disasters, computer viruses, ransomware, or inadvertently stepping on a file, and you can see it’s not a question of if, but when.

It’s important to educate your members on the need to back up not only important financial documents like account statements, tax returns and insurance papers, but also the little things that enrich our lives and are irreplaceable, like family photos and mementos. At Virtual StrongBox, we have long been proponents of backing up data – ours, yours and that of your members. Whether it’s easy access to eStatements, secure online forms, account notices or critical files like tax documents, we place all stored data on our US-based SSAE 16 SOC II compliant, redundant servers.

Members already trust your credit union with their money. Give them another reason to rely you – knowing that the information they trust you to safeguard is truly secure … and accessible when needed. To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, it’s fine to hope for the best – but be prepared for the worst. Backing up important files on a regular basis is the ounce of prevention that’s worth its weight in gold – for you and your members.