In Chicago last week, heavy rains caused widespread flooding. I had some water in my office, but fortunately nothing was damaged. Through it all, I remained calm knowing my computer equipment and files were safe. As a small business owner, these things are top of mind in an emergency. My backup plan has saved me a few times so I thought I would share what’s worked for me:
1) Have multiple backups
I have 4 active copies of client files: One on my computer, one on an external drive using TimeCapsule, one on an external drive I back up manually, and one on the cloud-based service Dropbox (more on this later).
2) Make your backup automatic
This is key for busy business owners! As long as your computer is on and you are connected, your files are being backed up in real-time. This is another reason I love TimeCapsule and Dropbox… I don’t have to think about it, it just happens!
3) Keep a backup off-site
For active and archived projects, I have copies of files both on-site and off-site. If something happens at one location, I know there is a duplicate at the other location.
4) Use cloud-based services
Hard drives fail all the time. Why not let someone else worry about maintaining the hardware? There are many cloud-based services out there. I really like Dropbox because it has an uncluttered, intuitive interface and it’s fast. I also like that Dropbox keeps a snapshot of every change over the last 30 days. If I delete or save over a file by mistake I can restore it in a matter of seconds.
5) Create DVD archives
Once projects are complete, burn files to a DVD archive. I create two copies: one to keep on-site for reference and one to store off-site. This method keeps large files off my computer and provides an organized binder to reference older client projects. I print a DVD cover with a screenshot of the folder directory so I can quickly reference what is on each DVD.
These are things that have worked for me over the past 10 years. You will develop your own system — and the most important thing is to have a system. Good luck!