How to avoid a data disaster on the road

It happened to Susan Solovic on a recent flight.

As her seatmate stood to go to the bathroom, she knocked over a soda on Solovic’s laptop.

“I’m sure it will be fine,” she said to herself. But when she powered up the computer, the screen remained stubbornly blank.

“Nothing,” she says. “I mean nothing.”

Solovic, an author based in New York, is just one of many victims of data loss on the road — losses that seem to be getting worse but are almost always preventable.

“I was mortified,” said Solovic, who lost 150 pages of her book manuscript. She was also scared straight: After her data loss, she signed up for a subscription to Carbonite, a service that automatically backs up her laptop’s data when she’s connected to the Internet.

Slightly more than 1 in 5 consumers don’t save their data in a safe place, according to a survey by Acronis, a company that provides backup systems. Yet 42 percent of those polled valued the data on their devices at more than $1,000. In other words, we think our data are worth something, but not enough to invest in a backup system.

Tsk, tsk.

Not that backup systems are completely reliable. Jo Young, an actress who lives in New York, remembers a motorcycle ride back from the beach on the back of a friend’s motorcycle. Her iPhone was safely tucked in a beach bag, which was securely fastened to the back of the motorcycle — or so she thought.

“When I got off the bike, my bags were gone,” she says. “They had flown off after hitting one of the oh-too-numerous road bumps without our knowledge. I was devastated.”

She’d saved the contents of her iPhone to the cloud, but not all of it. “They were able to upload most of my contacts, but none of my texts and only the last 30 photos I had taken. I had some great memories in those photos.”

I know what it feels like to lose data while you’re traveling. My worst loss: This summer, my server melted down while I was on a two-month road trip across North America. Our backup systems also failed, and we had to restore from a version of my consumer advocacy blog that was three months old. Ouch!

There’s a feeling you get when you lose data. It’s a combination of helplessness and anger. But when you’re out of the office, and unable to do anything except send a series of increasingly urgent emails to your IT guy back in the office, that sentiment drifts toward despair. It almost feels as if part of you is gone. It’s awful.

If you carry a phone or a computer, you’ll probably deal with data loss sooner or later, predicts Ted Hulsy, a vice president at eFolder, a company that specializes in data backup and disaster recovery. “Unfortunately, we may even see a higher incidence of data loss because the number of devices that data resides on is increasing, and the number of employees that decide to work remotely is also increasing,” he adds.

But you don’t have to become a victim. If you travel, you’ll lose data eventually. Yes, even the experts lose data. David Grubb, who runs CMIT Solutions of Tribeca, a company that provides backup services, regularly commutes between New York and London. On one of his trips, he lost a bag that contained his cellphone.

“This included personal data, plans I developed for a new business, personal photos and all my key contacts,” he says.

The handset was lost, but he’d taken the precaution of backing up the information in the device to the cloud and was able to retrieve all his contacts and other data from it. Lesson learned? Keep your eye on your belongings — and “always, always take a proactive approach to backing up, rather than deal with the consequences afterward,” he says.

In a world where we’re more dependent on our devices than ever, data backups shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be one of the first things you consider before you take off. If you don’t, you could lose your photos, your manuscript — or your entire business.

Tips for preventing data loss

• Back up your digital photos and files before you leave. Before taking off, use an online data recovery solution or external hard drive to make sure all of those great images – and any other important files — are fully backed up, advises Mohamad Ali, CEO of Carbonite, an online data recovery solution. “You don’t want to risk losing them if your laptop is lost or stolen while traveling,” he says.

• BYOB. Bring your own backup, says David Zimmerman, CEO of LC Technology International, a data recovery service. “Consider bringing along a lightweight external hard drive,” he says. “These serve as a more durable backup for your files compared to the SD cards and they are quite inexpensive compared to how much they store.” Some external drives even feature automatic cloud updating that pushes your files to a remote server.

• Have a plan “B.” Know where your backed-up data are kept and how to recover the files quickly. One of the safest bets is a cloud-based backup system, says Mark Jennings, the director of network sales for SymQuest, an information systems provider. “They ensure critical data and applications are backed up often and easily restored, reducing downtime, and getting you up running in the event of loss,” he says.

Are you diligent about backing up your critical data and photos?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend