“Is Today the Tomorrow You Should Have Worried About Yesterday”

“Is Today the Tomorrow You Should Have Worried About Yesterday”

That was a favorite theme for bumper stickers back in the Seventies. We know what it means because we have all encountered that situation at one time or another. Maybe it was that flu shot you kept putting off, Or perhaps it was that old hose on the washing machine that your father kept telling you to replace. It’s human nature to procrastinate on those “number eleven of your top ten tasks to get done” items. Then it happens, and it’s too late. You wake up feeling miserable or maybe one of the kids is yelling “Mommy, why is there water in the basement?”

We hear that sort of sad tale of woe here at Worth Ave. Group about computer software. More accurately, we hear from our customers who think to protect their device against loss or failure, but not their hundreds of dollars of software. They ask us “can you insure my software?” or “can you replace my lost software?” The answer to those questions comes in both the Bad News and Good News varieties. No, we don’t but you can do it for free!

Here is why we don’t insure software. The cost to you the consumer would be too high to be attractive to you or us. What do we mean by that? Here is an example: let’s say that I buy a refurbished Dell Latitude 2-in-1 laptop/tablet for $210. Worth Ave. Group can insure that for me for only $22 a year for all risk coverage and no deductible. But I put Microsoft Office 2010 Professional on the laptop after I bought it. The retail price of that software (even though it’s not the current version of Office) ranges between $175 to $245. The latest version of MS Office 2016 is retailing for $399. With just one software application, the risk that we incur doubles and so would your premium. But then we most look at all of the other software applications that you have on your computer and what the retail value of those would be. Very quickly the risk for us and the cost for you would not be very attractive.

So what is a concerned electronic device owner supposed to do to protect their software? Here are some free tips you can do without being a techie guru.

1. When you purchase software, take the time to register it online. That will require you to find and type your software’s license number, key, or the id number (whatever they call it) to a registration page. When you have all of the required information on the filled in, do this! Right click your mouse, select “Print”, and when the printer options appear, change the print option to “PDF” and then hit the red “Save” button.

What do you do with that PDF besides save it to your desktop? You then email it as an attachment to yourself. Then regardless of where you are or what computer you are using after a disaster affecting your current computer, you can still produce your license number. (Some software companies will email that information to you if you take the time to register your software. Either way, you have a copy online and not on your computer!

2. If you purchase software as a download, take time before you install it to burn a backup copy to a DVD, CD or flash drive. Do the same registration steps as in #1 above, but this time add a copy of that registration PDF to your DVD/CD/flash drive you just created. (More about physical backups a little later in this article)

3. Get a “cloud” backup. Saving your data online is very much like sending yourself that email PDF attachment. Your store your information on an encrypted server (in other words, It’s as safe as the internet goes these days). Some computer manufacturers offer “their ” online storage, but beware! Although the storage package may have the same name as your computer manufacturer, much of that storage is outsourced to another company. That means that if you have trouble creating a backup or retrieving one, the customer service you receive probably will not be as good as what you get on your actual computer issues. The backup company may even go out of business without you knowing it. (Anyone remember “Dell Backup?”

Stay with an established software company like Norton when choosing your backup software provider and you’ll be more assured of what you are getting for your money.

4. What about physical backups like USB hard drives, DVD’s, and flash drives? Sure; in item 2 it says to make a physical backup using a DVD or flash drive. So why shouldn’t you purchase a USB connected, free-standing hard drive? Spending a couple of bucks on a blank DVD or flash drive can’t hurt your pocket book when it comes to backup choices. But in the event of a house fire or a natural disaster, DVD’s and flash drives tend to be kept within arms’ length of your computer. As goes the computer, so goes your backup device. And that gets compounded with the USB connected hard drive because often a virus or power surge that takes out your computer can also nail that USB hard drive.

Now; let’s assume that you are a very prudent person, and you decide to emulate what many companies do for backup: you take your physical backup to an off-site storage. Well, good for you! Yes, some people go that extra mile when it comes to their software security. They might even store it in the family safe deposit box. If the worst happens, they can laugh at the rest of us and say “I told you so!”

So what is our recommended solution for protecting your computer software? All of the Above. Viruses, malware, power surges, and natural disasters are now a part of our lives. Don’t let “Today become that tomorrow that you worried about yesterday"! Spend ten minutes and less than a hundred bucks to protect hundreds of dollars of software? Sounds like a pretty good exchange!