How To Back Up Your Digital Life
Last year someone I know lost all their files and data because her laptop broke and it wasn’t backed up. We all learn the hard way.
I can now smugly say that my laptop could burst into flames before my very eyes (note to laptop: please don’t) and I could stomp over to the Apple store, buy another laptop and resume working from exactly where I left off almost instantly.
And I recommend that you ALL do this. Whether you work almost entirely on your laptop like me, or you simply use it to stream Say Yes to the Dress and book tickets to Bananarama concerts, just please in the name of all that is holy, back your stuff up. All of it.
Backing up doesn’t need to be the ball-ache it once was. I’m not suggesting you store your life on a selection of brightly coloured floppy disks – though if you do that PLEASE BE MY FRIEND.
I now work in a way that is completely automated in terms of its backups, and I’ve developed habits to make sure all the niggly things that fall outside of that way of working are taken care of.
Yes, the Google Docs and Google Sheets programs have slightly fewer functions than the offline versions, but please just make your peace with them. Every few seconds the system will auto-save whatever you’re working on to your Drive, meaning if your laptop does indeed meet a gory Game Of Thrones-like end, you can pick up where you left off on any computer with access to ye olde internet. Yeehah. If you are working offline, or if anyone sends you anything offline, PUT IT IN YOUR DRIVE IMMEDIATELY. It will auto-convert to an online version after you drag-and-drop it into your folder. Just put it there. You’ll thank yourself later.
Somewhat similar to Google Drive, yes, but I work out of both. Dropbox is better for bigger files like photos, and can be shared with people who don’t have Dropbox, or people who do. I find its sharing function slightly more intuitive than Google’s. Yes, the free version has hardly any space, but please just pay the $13.99 a month for the 1TB version. I resisted it for so long but holy buggery, it’s worth it. It means other people can plonk stuff they want you to see right in your Dropbox, and you can even set it up to have all the files in your Finder on your Mac, so it LOOKS like you’re working out of normal files, but really there’s tiny little robots auto-saving everything for you. BONZA.
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
Will it be the most BORING $100 you’ve ever spent? YEP. Will you also pick up approx. 1342 pens and a multipack of funsize Mars Bars from the office supply store when you go and buy it? YOU SURE WILL. But will it be the single best purchase of yo’ year? YUHUH. Just go get one. A massive one, not a pissy little USB stick. One of those little rectangular blocks that makes you feel a bit like you’re in Spykids. Get one with big storage – 1TB minimum. On here you’ll want to dump all your personal stuff, and everything from my fave file ever, ‘MISC’. Misc basically translates to ‘shit I can’t be bothered to check if I need’. Things like your CV from 9 years ago – just in case, yknow, you need to check the details of the “transferrable teamwork skills” you learned in your first job. Stuff you can’t bear to delete goes in here. Also, personal stuff. Got a will? Bung it on your hard drive. Old pics? Hard drive. Your plan to take over the world? You guessed it. Hard drive.
AUTOMATE EVERYTHING ELSE
Depending on what type of work you do, try to automate everything to save across multiple devices, or in The Cloud (does anyone even actually know wtf The Cloud is?).
Use a cloud-based accounting system like Xero, QuickBooks or Rounded (my fave), so you can access your accounts from anywhere – and keep everything stored within the system, too.
Sync your laptop, phone, tablet and any other device you use. Whenever I type anything into my Notes on my iPhone, it links to my laptop. If I open a webpage on my laptop, i can access it on my phone. Those all-important tabs you keep open all the time – make sure you can access them from anywhere.
Use Google Calendar (or iCal or anything like that). No more lost appointments, forgotten plans or double-booking.
Set aside a time each day/week to check-in with your automation. Ask yourself my question – if my laptop spontaneously combusted/grew legs and ran away to Mexico/never turned on again, could I pick up where I left off on another computer?
Use Google Keep to save things you want to return to later – being a Google product, you can access those to-dos from anywhere!
If your answer isn’t an instant ‘yes’, think about what you’d lose and put it in Google Drive, Dropbox, on your Hard Drive, or at the very very least, email it to yourself. I used to do this in my Uni days.
Do you have any other backing-up tips and tricks? Please let me know them so I can take my bad-ass back up skills to another even more awesome level!