“It won’t happen to me”. Just as some businesses persist in burying their head in the sand, when it comes to IT disaster recovery, many people turn a blind eye to the possibility of losing data on personal devices. The potential prejudice can go much further than losing your mobile phone contacts, especially now that personal devices like smartphones and tablets are now commonly used for professional purposes too. Working from home with desktop PC and a large screen may reduce risk of loss or theft, but adds a new risk factor of immobility. Here, fresh from recent personal experience, are some tips to help recover from data loss that happens outside the conventional corporate perimeter.

Your personal computing devices are exposed to more risks than your own errors or clumsiness. If you are using them for work as well as private use, your IT department may insist on integrating them into their system and data management.

You may then be covered (for work information) by the IT department’s data backup routines, but there’s only one way to know for sure – ask! If not, be aware that damage and loss can happen in all sorts of ways, including someone else’s coffee spills, drops onto hard floors, pickpockets, and a fire in an adjoining establishment that sends intense heat and filthy smoke into your space and leaves sooty residues everywhere (there’s that recent personal experience!).

Proper organisation and availability are critical for your data backups (other than the services offered by your IT department). Many devices and operating systems now offer free, automatic file-saving to associated cloud spaces, but this may run counter to IT security policy in your business.

If you use this solution, do not assume that all your important files are being copied to your cloud space – check for yourself. Other more labour-intensive possibilities for recovering files in an emergency include downloading them from email systems or project/collaboration software, if you have previously shared them with others. But take a moment right now to think about how you would recover data from your personal devices – and then take the necessary steps to plug any holes in your plan!