Protecting your computer’s data files is something every self-publisher must know about and deal with before it’s too late. Therefore, it’s essential that you keep the back-up process simple and automatic. It’s also imperative to create multiple copies, on-site, and off-site. Here’s a run-down of how we do this in our office.
Protecting your computer’s data files is something every self-publisher must know about and deal with before it’s too late. And it’s not a complicated or expensive process. It can be as simple as having an external hard drive and using cloud storage. No special knowledge or fancy equipment is needed. And, the process is very easy to automate. But it’s essential that you keep the back-up process simple and automatic. It’s also imperative to create multiple copies, on-site, and off-site.
Here is a run-down of how we manage our data storage in our office:
A. Using An External Hard Drive For Data Backup
We started out using one external hard drive in our office. This is the most basic and easiest way to protect your data that’s located on your internal hard drive. We currently use a brand-name 2TB external hard drive. Make sure that you purchase a hard drive that can store 50 to 100% more data than is currently on your computer’s internal hard drive.
Purchase only the correct size that you need now, and then upgrade with a newer and larger unit when you need it. We purchased an external USB hard drive that is very small in size. This gives us an easy way to put the hard drive into our fire-proof safe, or safety deposit box, or take it with us on a working vacation.
B. Using Multiple External Hard Drives For Data Backup
We now use multiple external USB hard drives. This way even if one drive fails, we would still have several others still working. All hard drives will eventually fail – and fail when you least expect it. Multiple hard drives help reduce our risk of this type of exposure.
C. Using Cloud Storage For Data Backup
Storing your data online is called “cloud storage”. You should consider using cloud storage because it’s a safe and simple way to store your files away from your office – where they can’t be stolen from your office, lost or mistakenly deleted by you, or burned up in a fire. And you can access these files that are stored “in the cloud,” whether you are in your home, office, or on vacation. There are many cloud storage companies, and all are easy to find on the internet.
Many offer some basic storage for free. There are also many reviews and comparisons of the different services on the internet. Some companies will even automatically backup your data to an external hard drive and, at the same time, also to the cloud. Play it safe and pick one of the big-name cloud storage companies to deal with for your business.
D. Isn’t Backing Up To The Cloud Risky?
Your data will be stored in an encrypted format when it’s backed up to the cloud at the storage company, which should prevent most hackers from accessing your data. If you require a greater level of security, you can use your own private encryption key to further reduce possible exposure to data intrusion. The likelihood of a server like Apple’s, or Amazon’s, or Google’s going down is far less than the possibility that your own hard drive or local backup will fail.
E. Working Away From Home Or Office
If you’re away from your home or office business computer, and using your laptop, you can very easily and quickly email yourself the document that you’re working on. Doing this will give you copy waiting for you in your email box back at your office. Also, save it to your laptop’s internal hard drive, and to a flash drive, or even a small portable external hard drive.
But a good general rule is that you should never keep extremely sensitive data on your laptop. Keep it on your flash drive or small external hard drive, both of which are easy to carry or hide, and also upload to the cloud storage company. We keep several flash drives with us when on vacation – and keep them in our pockets for safe-keeping. Flash drives are very inexpensive – so buy and use several.
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F. Should I Encrypt My Hard Drives And Backups?
What is encryption? It’s a sophisticated method for protecting your data from thieves, but not from malware. And for most self-publishing and small business purposes, encryption of your computer or hard drive is not necessary. Encryption is generally recommended only for extremely sensitive data – like your patients’ medical records, for example. If you encrypt your data, you will be adding unneeded complexity and risk to the very process you are trying to make easier and more practical.
With the added complexity of encryption comes the increased probability of a problem – such as you, or your co-workers, not having access to your own password. Therefore, the risk that you lose access to your backed-up data goes up. Make sure that you understand when and why you might need to encrypt your backups. Think about how you, your spouse, and partners, will ensure that you all will have access to your encryption password when it things go terribly wrong. Data encryption can cost you time, money, and aggravation. So, for most small business and self-publishing purposes, avoid it.
G. What Computer Data Should I Backup?
At the very least, you need to back up everything except software applications. This is because most software is easy to replace, and generally not too expensive. But any data that is necessary for the operation of your self-publishing business must be backed up in multiple places.
H. What About Our Websites, Blogs, Email Lists, And Online Publications?
All of these are absolutely essential to keep your self-publishing business going and thriving. Therefore, we keep multiple backup copies on multiple hard drives here in our office, and also on the cloud. All of our websites and blogs are also backed-up by the hosting company.
Our hosting company also sends us backup copies by email. And our email lists are kept on our computer, which is backed up on external hard drives, and also at our online email list host company. The lists can easily be downloaded from the email list host company’s website. All of our online publications also have full copies with the companies that sell our publications.
By having a simple backup plan that utilizes an internal hard drive, multiple external hard drives, and online cloud backup, you will be providing yourself with almost foolproof security for when your computer’s hard drive crashes, or your system is stolen, or ruined in a fire or flood. Don’t risk losing your important files forever when you can quickly and inexpensively avoid that mess with a tripled-up data backup plan.
And never forget: do not put all of your trust in one method over the other. Internal hard drives, external hard drives, and flash drives can fail. Even your cloud storage company can fail – go out of business, be hacked, or their software on your computer can fail. Mitigate your risks as much as possible by keeping your strategy simple, make it automatic, and store data in multiple on-site and off-site locations.
Questions For Us To Think About And Discuss
1. What back-up methods have you been using? Or plan to use?
2. Have you had any methods fail on you? What was the recovery process like?
Let me know in the comments section below.
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