The following is a guest post by Chad Tabary. His bio is at the end of the article.
Stop everything you’re doing as you read this (let the crickets chirp or the lights hum) and let this thought sink in for a minute. …all of your hard work is GONE. Your sweat equity, your captured talent, your mental capital, your very ingenuity poured out in typed letters, stewed over for hours or days, is no longer in existence.
Well, for many of us, there is yelling, possibly hurling of laptops, or some smashed keys! Some people cry. Some people stare at the screen or click random things hoping that some magic key-stroke combination will bring it back. (…it’s happened, but you’re likely not that lucky.)
If you’re in a big company, you call up and plead with an IT. If you’re the average entrepreneur, you ring up your teenage nephew to plead. In both cases, I am actually sorry to say, the results are nearly always the same. It’s gone.
Backup your stuff!
If you have any type of file that is so important that it would drive you to tears, or to smashing keyboards if you lost it (I’ve seen both!), back that thing up! Come on now. I would almost call this common sense were it not for the masses of panicked people that have come into my office and looked at me as if I were their last drop of water in the desert.
If you consider anything important, you should automatically have access to three copies of it! We have to accept one important reality about technology.
Technology will hick-up (i.e. gobble up data and destroy a week’s worth of work), in the same manner as the nicest of two-year-olds will occasionally throw an ear-piercing temper tantrum. Things happen!
There are lots of things we can do about this! Once you grab onto a few of them, you’ll quickly realize all the undue stress you’ve been stacking up on yourself and hopefully let it go.
Thumbdrives, Smartphones, CDs, and DVDs are all cheap mass-storage media that you can store copies of files on to have lying around and handy. As you update your working copy, go back and copy over your additional copies.
When I did a lot of web design, I always had copies of the websites I was working on, on various thumb-drives. If I ever wanted to update something from a different computer, or show copies of my work to people, it was always right there, within reach, ready for any operating system.
This is my favorite, and applies most specifically to social media. If you’re using any web based email (Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail, ect) you have a very convenient way of backing up important files right there. Just email them to yourself.
Emailing yourself puts a copy of that email on your email provider’s servers. You can log on from any computer, anywhere in the world, and have a copy of it sitting right there in your inbox, and today it’s available on smart phones and tablets. Nothing but winning there.
Companies like Google and Yahoo! have made this much simpler. Google has Google Docs, a web app where you can draft and save, or upload, all the major office document types and save them online. All of my blog posts are also saved in Google Docs. Redundancy in data is your friend! You can edit them from anywhere and even add other user accounts who are able to logon and edit them too. If your computer crashes, you just find another one and log back on to the web. Simple!
Next to Google Docs, there are GREAT services like Dropbox and Evernote. Dropbox allows you to host files in the “Cloud.” But even cooler, you can share that location out with multiple collaborators. A company I run produced a music video for one of our bits. The producer synced us all up through Dropbox where I saw casting photos, budgets, and treatments updated live and handy from any device that I use. I was sold.
All told, there are many ways to backup your files. I couldn’t list them all in this article. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you put it all on 17 floppy disks (go it old school!) as long as you understand that data has a curious way of disappearing and most people have a curious way of never having made a copy! Back stuff up. It’s good for your blood pressure, it’s good for your business. If you care about it, make a copy somewhere.
Chad Tabary is the production manager and co-founder of Hard Knock Laughs in NYC. He’s an IT for the U.S. Coast Guard, and an entrepreneur focused on Business IT, Real Estate, and Performing Arts. He writes on ThisBlueCouch.com