The next line of defense is to purchase a good maintenance program like Symantec's Norton Utilities ($80 for version 8.0; $100 for Mac) to keep your hard drive in working order. Programs like this help monitor and clean up your system so there's less potential for problems. For example, Norton Utilities contains problem-solving tools that detect trouble with system files and software applications, and it offers crash protection and recovery assistance.
If you frequently copy data from disks or the Internet, you'll also want to install an antivirus program like Symantec's Norton AntiVirus (version 4.0, $49.95; 4.0 deluxe and Mac, $69.95). But before running an antivirus or maintenance program, be sure to back up, warns Stange. That way, if there's a problem and your software attempts to fix it but fails, you can always start over with your original information.
Keep an accurate inventory of all computer equipment, both in-house and off-site, in the same location as your data backups. This should include an itemized list of equipment, receipts and any other records you might need to speed up the claims process in the event of a disaster. It's also a good idea to contact your insurance company before any serious problems occur to find out what it needs to process a claim.
Finally, don't ever ignore your computer's odd symptoms. If you get an error message you've never seen before, write it down. If your computer makes a strange sound, begins to crash regularly or just starts acting funny, make a log of the symptoms so you can tell tech support what happened should a major problem develop.