Let's talk about my death for a minute 'cause I know a bunch of you have been thinking about it.
Near the bottom, he alludes to something in passing: Does your spouse know where The Data is? This triggered something that's been brewing in the back of my mind for some time now: What happens if it's my turn to get hit by a bus tomorrow?
There is more to that than just telling people where my data is. That's the easy part. But what about the "other" IT support I do for various friends and family?
Here are a couple of examples from my own experience. I maintain seven domain names, some of which are personal, but at least four aren't. They are for my dad's company and another company for which I do IT work on the side. In the event of my untimely demise, how does someone log in to renew or change the domain info for these?
And what happens when the e-mail goes down for any of those domains?
Many years ago, I whipped up an ASP app for my dad's company (using AJAX before it was called AJAX even) that they can now not do without. They are on the phone to me faster than any notification system could be when that app goes down. Upon my death, someone will need to: a) find the app and the database, and b) decipher it. And let's just say I was a junior hillbilly back in 2000.
I do a lot of IT work for a small energy consulting firm (as in the president and his direct report, aka Mrs. Hillbilly). Over the years, I've done many little tweaks to his server and various laptops. Configuring a dial-up app for when he's in countries with limited access, setting up Microsoft's SyncToy to backup his laptop whenever he's in town, configuring the Microsoft Office Apps to look in specific folders by default, and so on and so forth.
Basically, I do all the techie stuff so that he can focus on doing what he does best, which is the goal for all non-technical professionals. But the kind of personal service he (and my family) enjoys comes at a cost in that it's that much bigger a hit when I'm gone. Sure you could get any lackey to install a virus scanner but what happens when you're in Kuwait and you start getting a svchost error every time you boot up right before you're supposed to teach a five-day seminar (to take a totally hypothetical example that didn't happen just last year).
Yes, I should be documenting everything and yes, I should have a will and yes, I should take the hair of the chipmunks before I cook 'em. But I haven't, okay? And unfortunately, there are businesses that rely on them now. And this isn't to mention this har blog thingy and its long-forgotten sister-site, The Hillbaley Ho Down and Extravaganza (or, more importantly, its e-mail domain).
So while you're making a backup strategy, don't forget to include the passwords, URLS, network locations, domain info, and various tweaks to unknowing victims' computers alongside your will in the safety deposit box.
Oh, and if by chance you DO get a svchost error on boot up, it's probably your Automatic Updates.