How and why you should back up your work

Posted on: March 4th, 2011

This is a cautionary tale.

Last week, my husband bumped into a graphic designer we both know. He told my husband how, two nights earlier, a burglar had stolen his iMac from his ground floor studio while he was asleep upstairs.

“I can get a replacement computer easily and my insurance will pay, but I’ve lost all my work and all my client’s artwork.”

Because he hadn’t backed anything up.

Backing up your work is a habit you need to get into. Here are eight ways you can back up your data.

1. Memory sticks (USB flash drives)

Copy your files on a weekly basis onto memory sticks (or more often) and keep them somewhere safe.

2. Copy your files onto CDs/DVDs

The only problem with this method is it’s quite time consuming. They also don’t store huge amounts of data, so aren’t ideal for big photo or music collections. Do be sure to store them offsite in case of fire.

3. Sign up to Dropbox

Dropbox allows you to share files over the internet and to access your computer files remotely. The free version gives you up to 2 GB of storage and the paid plan allows up to 100GB. If you introduce a friend to Dropbox, you both get 250 MB of bonus space (up to a limit of 8 GB) as a ‘thank you’. So the more friends you introduce, the more free storage you get.

4. Back up to another computer

If you have a laptop as well as a PC or a Mac, copy files across so you have duplicate content.

5. Add an external hard drive to your computer

This is an easy way to back up your files. With the appropriate software installed, all you have to do is click a button and the back up starts automatically, or the software can be scheduled to start the backup process at a given time.

6. Install a second hard drive into your computer

This method will ensure the data from your original hard drive is copied to the new second drive. This won’t help if your computer is stolen or irreparably damaged, but it will come in handy in you suffer data loss from your existing hard drive.

7. Sign up to Cloud computing

This is a remote way of storing your information. Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, where all your files, images, music etc care stored on a central and secure server. So if your computer breaks down or is stolen, all your work can be retrieved immediately. This previous post by guest writer, Alex Harris, explains more about Cloud computing.

8. NAS

An excellent new way of storing and backing up, without the use of a fileserver, is called a “NAS” (Network Attached Storage). It’s essentially a fileserver which then in turn backs up to the cloud. It’s a near-perfect solution for small workgroups. Files can even be accessed via a web browser if you’re away from the office.

Here’s how I back up my work

  • All my original files are stored on a server in my office and there’s a copy made overnight to my PC. Not much use if both my server and computer get stolen or damaged, but a real help if my server gives up the ghost.
  • My husband’s PC is also linked to the server, so if my computer breaks down, I can access my files through his machine.
  • I have a copy of all my work on a series of 16 GB memory sticks that I carry around with me.
  • And in case the server/my PC/my husband’s PC all get stolen/damaged on the same day that my bag with my memory sticks get nicked, I also have a copy of my files on DVDs that I store offsite in our storage unit up the road.
  • I’ve recently starting using Dropbox and am starting to store my current ‘work in progress’ projects there.

How do you back up your work?

2 Responses to “How and why you should back up your work”

  1. Richard Hollins
    March 4th, 2011

    I backup to two external hard drives and to Dropbox.

    Dropbox has three advantages:

    - you don’t have to worry about losing everything in a burglary / fire

    - it automatically syncs between computers, so I no longer have to copy files between my PC and laptop

    - you can access files from any PC through the web.

    I’m running out of my free space, so I’ll probably upgrade to the paid version soon.

  2. Freelance FactFile
    March 4th, 2011

    Hi Richard

    Yes, I like Dropbox for those reasons, too. (You can encourage your friends to sign up to it and get more free space.) :)

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