The sensible campaigner is the campaigner with backups

Computer hard drive - CC0 Public Domain

The office wall in one of my former jobs had a cartoon with two drunks slumped in an alleyway bemoaning their fate. One was saying to the other, “It all started to go wrong when I realised the backups hadn’t been working…” He at least had been trying to use backups.

Sometimes people fear trusting data to computers, worried that a wrong key press may result in valuable information being lost. That is to get things wrong: data is safer on computers because it is much easier to do regular backups. Data stored any other way is difficult to backup; reams of photocopies are no match for the simplicity of a computer backup. If you want your data to be safe, give it to a computer and then do regular, proper backups.

However, even the best of computer systems can go wrong. Data disasters can and do strike highly reputable services and when the risks of hacking and human error are thrown in, not to mention the cost of losing data for a critical few days whilst someone else sorts out restoring it, it makes sense to back up your data wherever it is.

Backup here can also mean ‘make a copy of in a different place’. For example, I’m a heavy use of MailChimp and it doesn’t come with an option labelled ‘backup’. But it does come with a download option, so when my diary reminds me to, I download the data and store it safely password protection and encrypted. (For no longer than my GDPR-complaint data retention policy says, obvs.)

Likewise, creating a set of pdfs from Connect of your shuttleworths just before polling day is a good insurance against a mini-multitude of problems, including the possible loss of internet connectivity from your polling day committee room.

There’s more about the importance of backups and how to have a sensible system in Chapter 41 of 101 Ways To Win An Election. As that chapter starts: “You can’t stop things going wrong; you can stop them turning into disasters.”


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