Sylvia’s work computer crapped out on us yesterday. It won’t boot. Now it’s in the shop and probably has a bad motherboard. We’ll get it back, if it’s worth repairing, by Saturday or Monday, but it’s really no big deal.
Not many years ago, a PC going belly up meant that most productivity came to a grinding halt, email and other files were not available. No MLS access (it’s all web based now), and work life became difficult.
Not anymore. We’ve learned our lessons, and we have better tools and strategies to lessen the pain and impact of computer failure.
Let’s take a look at two simple things we do that allow us to keep working without a hitch when one of our computers decides to kick the bucket without notice.
1) Multiple ways to access email
At present, if you send an email to me or Sylvia, a copy is also sent to free Gmail and Yahoo accounts, such that the Outlook email client on the computer is not needed to keep receiving and responding to email messages. This means that any emails or email attachments that need to be accessed can be without relying on the PC-based email client.
If you are not doing this already, even with your personal emails, there is no reason not to. Plus, Gmail acts as a permanent and easily searchable archive of all emails ever received. This has come in handy more than once.
2) Automatic and Instant backup of all important files
When my computer went south for about a week earlier this year, it was a problem because mine was the file server we used to keep all of our deal documents, pdf files, faxes, etc. Sylvia accessed files from her computer via our network, but everything was stored on my hard drive.
When I had to ship my computer back to HP for repair, it fouled up that system. I had CD backups of the files, but not daily ones. The newest was about a week or two old, and I didn’t like the fact that even that system would be vulnerable to fire or theft.
Enter the free service Folder Share by Microsoft. Now our file folder directories are cloned (and therefore backed up) almost instantly on multiple computers. So if Sylvia saves a pdf version of a signed contract in a Seller’s folder on her computer, that file is also placed in the same folder on my computer about 3 seconds later.
It all happens automatically and behind the scenes. Same with my laptop in case we are traveling or at the main office at KW. All the work files are accessible from multiple computers. I can even access them from any other computer if I need to. And it’s free.
So, with Sylvia’s computer down, she just hops on mine or the laptop and all the files are there just as they are on her own computer, she can check her email just fine through Gmail, and there is no interruption or disruption to work flow.
Just these two simple things have us set up so that we don’t need to panic if a PC crashes or stops working. It makes our lives easier but it also represents a level of reliability that we owe to our clients.
I had an agent a few weeks ago have me emailing stuff directly to her client because her “email has been down for a few days and I can’t get anything”. She seemed frazzled. Another agent today, who’s email had been down for a day, dismissed my suggestion that he set up an alternate Gmail account to receive forwarded copies and to use as backup. “Ahh, it doesn’t happen often enough to be a big problem” he told me.
Like a property manager friend of mine once said about what I thought was his excessive documentation of tenant move-outs, “I like to wear a belt and suspenders”. Thats how I feel about our email and important file docs.