A Self-Publisher’s Guide to Computer Data Backup

Protecting your computer’s data files is something every self-publisher must know about and deal with before it is too late. It is 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. It is essential that you keep the back-up process simple and automatic. It is also essential to create multiple copies, on-site, and off-site. Here is a run-down of how we do this in our office.

Using An External 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 is located on your internal hard drive. A brand-name 3TB hard drive is now $120. Make sure that you purchase a hard drive larger than you currently need. But don’t overbuy. Right now this 3TB has a good price. As time goes on, the larger hard drives will drop in price too. Another reason not to over-buy is that hard drives don’t last forever. Purchase only what 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 only 5 inches x 7 inches x 1.5 inches. This small size gives you an easy way to put the hard drive into your safe, or safety deposit box, or take it with you on your working vacation.

Using Multiple External Drives For Data Backup

We now use multiple external hard drives. They are installed together and they work as one unit within a storage array box. This way we can store a large amount of data on multiple drives that are all stored within one small, desk-top box. Even if one or two drives fail, we would still have several more still working. Again, only purchase a big-name storage array box and big-name external hard drive to put into it.

Using Cloud Storage For Data Backup

Storing your data online is called "cloud storage". You should consider using cloud storage because it is a safe and simple way to store your files away from your office – where they can’t be stolen from your office, lost, or burned up in a fire. There are many cloud storage companies, and all are easy to find on the internet. Many offer 2GB or 5GB of free storage. 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.

How Do I Find A Cloud Storage Company?

There are many cloud storage companies, and all are easy to find on the internet. There are many reviews and comparisons of the different services on the internet. Some will even automatically backup your data to an external hard drive and also to the cloud. Play it safe and pick one of the big-name companies to deal with.

Isn’t Backing Up To The Cloud Risky?

Your data will be stored in an encrypted format when it is backed up to the cloud at the storage company, which should prevent a hacker from easily accessing your information. 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.

Working Away From Home/Office

If you are away from your home/business computer, and using your laptop, email yourself the document that you are working on. Also save it to your laptop’s internal hard drive, and to your flash drive. A good general rule is that you should never keep extremely sensitive data on your laptop. Keep it on your flash drive and on the cloud. 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. We purchased 3 brand-name 8GB flash dives for under $20.

Should I Encrypt My Hard Drives?

For most purposes, encryption of your computer or hard drive is not necessary. Encryption is only necessary for extremely sensitive data – like your patients’ medical records. If you encrypt a backup, you will add unneeded complexity to a process that is designed to simplify and preserve fast access to your information. With this added complexity comes the increased probability of a problem. Therefore, the chance that you lose access to your backed-up data goes up. Do yourself a favor and make sure that you understand when and why you might need to encrypt your backups and think about how you’ll guarantee that will you have access to your encryption password when it counts. Data encryption will cost you too much time, money, and aggravation.

What Computer Data Should I Backup?

At the very least, you need to back up everything except software applications. Any data that is necessary for the operation of your business must be copied. Most software is easy to replace, and generally not too expensive.

What About Our Websites, Blogs, Mailing Lists, and Online Publications?

All of these are absolutely essential to keep your self-publishing business going and thriving. Fortunately, every one of them already has a built-in backup. 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 a backup copy by email. Our mailing lists are kept at an online mailing list company. The list can easily be downloaded from the mailing list company. We also keep a copy of it on our computers and hard drives. All of our online publications (ebooks and edocuments) also have full copies with the companies that sell our publications.

Conclusion

By having a simple backup plan that utilizes both online data backup and multiple external hard drives, you’re providing yourself with foolproof security for when your computer’s hard drive crashes, or your system is 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.

 

This article was written by Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. and originally posted on KunzOnPublishing.com

 

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