VALPARAISO | The need to have a back-up for computer information is a lesson Center Township Trustee Chuck Conover learned many years ago.
Conover told the Township Board on Tuesday of being home the night the former Lowenstein's store caught fire. The fire started in the northeast corner of the department store on Franklin Street, which put it about 15 feet from the township offices on Lincolnway. Only one building separated the offices from the fire.
The township had been using computers for about 10 years at that time to keep track of client and budget information. When the fire was under control the next morning, a fireman went with Conover up to the second floor office at 100 E. Lincolnway. All the power was out, so the offices were dark and smoke-filled.
The office was able to reopen in a couple of days in space loaned by the county on the third floor of the newly opened county administration building. They packed up the file cabinets, papers and pencils, but the computers were left behind. Conover said they wouldn't even start. It was about three weeks before the insurance company got the office cleaned up and new computers installed so the staff could return.
Fortunately, all of the information in computers was still available in the paper files. Although the township is doing more and more with computers these days, the back-up files are still done on paper. That might not be needed too much longer.
Conover said he signed a contract earlier this month with a Valparaiso company to store the computer data off-site. The information is copied each night at a cost of $50 a month.
"I had heard about the possibility of storing our data at a remote location, so I asked our technical guy to look into it," he said. "We're probably one of the first units of government doing this in this area. We have a lot of sensitive information that needs to be backed up, and it's very important that we do that.
"Our server has tape backup capabilities that we've being doing for some time. We put in fireproof file cabinets (to store the tapes along with the paper files), but, if we have a serious fire, the tapes won't survive even if the paper files do."