Backup your business: Advice for non-technical co-founders

Software is an amazing thing: a few thousand lines of text can power an entire business. One thing should be obvious: make sure you never lose the source code of your business. This is something your technical co-founder will take care of from day one. And that creates a problem that I want to shed some light on.

Making proper backups of software is a complicated task. And it usually involves setting up tools and processes that are created with developers in mind. It involves things like encryption, off-site copies, grandfathers, fathers and sons.

If one day you and your technical co-founder part ways in a bad way, you will find it impossible to get hold of a copy of your companies most valuable asset that can be used to keep operating your business with another partner.

You can prepare for this unlikely event, though. Do it in the beginning of your business and your technical co-founder will happily assist you in setting this up. He gets another level of safety and if you are not in an evil mindset there is no real argument why not to constantly ensure every co-founder of a business has unlimited access to a copy of the current source code.

Your mileage may vary but here are some practical ideas how to set up an easy to use system:

  • If you can, open-source your software and put it on GitHub. Make sure that this is your primary source code repository used by the development team to ensure it's up to date all the time.
  • Have a daily ZIP archive of all your source code on a backup server. Make sure that this server is rented by your company not by your co-founder or his buddies. If you don't mind third-parties snooping through your files, use Google Drive, Dropbox or Amazon S3 for the backup. Then make daily backups of the files there to storage devices that only you have access to (flashdisk, external hard drives or your laptop).

Trust but verify: Let a tech-savvy friend you trust verify the backups you have once in a while to get the extra certainty that you can't be left out in the cold.

Photo credits: Five Days' Backup by daryl_mitchell (CC BY-SA 2.0)