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In World War I, Le Vaillant the carrier pigeon was the last hope of survival. The French commander needed to get word out that his garrison was under a poison-gas attack. The message said, ‘This is my last pigeon’.

Le Vaillant avoided German bullets and flew through toxic air as he made his way to his dovecoat, saving 100 lives. After the war, he was given the Cross of War, an award given to French war heroes. To this day, Le Vaillant is immortalized in a Paris museum.

While this is a heartwarming story, the case for pigeons today can be hard to make. In fact, many people eschew anything that looks like low-tech backup. Our faith in technology is almost unshakeable. A military pigeon advocate contacted the French military about using pigeons as a backup, and was told that the communication system was resistant to power failure, cyber and electromagnetic attacks. Thus, pigeons are no longer needed. But are we really as ready as we think?

For your business, pigeons are not likely the issue. But think about the complications that could affect you. Superstorm Sandy just knocked out power in major Eastern cities for a week. Is it simply acceptable to not do business for that time? On a smaller level, hard drives get corrupted and computers fail. Your block could face a blackout. Are you ready?

Here are some low-tech backup ideas that can help your business bounce back quickly from any technology glitch.

  • Maintain a Printed List of All the Programs You Have Installed on Your Computer. While much of your software has install disks, a lot of it is likely just downloaded from the internet. Everything from your blog template and plugins to browser and Outlook add-ins can be written down. If your computer corrupts, you’ll have a handy, non-virtual list of what to restore when it’s fixed.
  • Maintain a Printed List of Your Clients and Contact Information. If you lose your contacts, or if the power completely goes down, you will still have your client information available. I don’t know how I’d even call my own mother if my phone died, as I don’t know her actual number. Keep this information printed or written down, and you’ll never lose touch. This will also allow you to write postal letters if needed.
  • Keep Flashlights and Non-Power Tools on Hand. Yes, this seems silly – until the power is out and you need to use a screwdriver to get an electrical panel open. Keep a basic toolbox and flashlights available, and make sure the batteries in the flashlights are changed once every couple months.
  • Solar Powered Walkie Talkies. In any disaster situation, cell phones die first. Even if they don’t go down entirely, the cell system is too crowded to be able to count on a call. To be able to communicate, especially if you are sending someone out to do an errand, consider solar powered walkie talkies. Some can transmit over 30 miles.

Do I sound like a Doomsday Prepper? I don’t intend to. But I do hope to bring some realism into the technology-as-backup discussion. You still need to do business if technology fails for a time. How will you do it?


What are your emergency plans? Do you feel it necessary to use low-tech? Let me know in the comments! 


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