Updated: May 4, 2022
Some great information from our friends at Ochoa Business Support
So I don’t need to tell you that performing backups is an important task. The fear looms over you, in the back of your mind - Oh man, what if I lose access to this? Eh, it’s fine now, I’ll get to it later…
But as we all know, “later” becomes “never” and you keep living with the nagging sense of dread until one day you DO lose some or all of your data, or you just live a lifetime of your brain producing cortisol in the background.
This guide is for you if 1) you’re just a person, or 2) a small business owner with no idea WHAT or HOW to back up things. There are a LOT of options, so I’m going to go over the basics to get you started.
How to back up… my website.
Your website host should have an option for this.
If you’re paying for your website, typically they’re automatically backing it up once a week. All you have to do is check. Google “[my host] backups”.
If your website is only informational (like a description of services and contact form) the automatic weekly backups are probably adequate. If possible, I do recommend downloading a backup and saving it 1-2 other places. Even easier, on your website, open the print dialog, and PRINT TO PDF. You won’t be able to upload that back to your website, BUT you’ll have the key look and text so that you can rebuild your site.
If your website is any more complicated than that, I strongly recommend paying for the daily backup service. For blogs you might be able to get away with backing up your data once a month. But as soon as you start adding data-collection methods or ecommerce, you need to make sure that you can get your site back.
How to back up things… on my computer.
Back them up to the cloud.
These are simple things on your computer that can be a backup for the files on your computer.
On Windows, simply search “backup settings” in your computer’s search bar in Settings. You’ll find Backups under Updates and Security. Set up “Back up Files to One Drive” for the first line of defense.
On Mac Computers
Set up iCloud and iCloud Drive. (Apologies that I don’t have more info for Macs, as I don’t currently have a Mac to take screenshots with!)
Can I use some other cloud instead?
Yes! I strongly recommend using the desktop client for Google Drive, Dropbox, or whatever your favorite is, as these often can save and restore old versions. Pick your favorite, pay for the amount of data you need, and save all your important documents in these drives. This will give your brain an immediate sense of calm.
How to back up… my whole computer.
I recommend full computer backups on a physical drive once a month.
First, you need to know how much data you need to back up. Thankfully, this is pretty easy to find.
Windows - Open your File Explorer and navigate to “This PC” as shown on the left side. You’ll find your Local Disk with the data amount right there!
Thankfully, data is cheap these days! You can buy a 1 TB physical drive for $50-$100 USD. I’ve used the brands LaCie and Western Digital (WD My Passport), but I’d also be confident with any larger computer brands.
And on a Mac, you’ve got the Time Machine. (I used to have a Mac and loved Time Machine, it was so easy to use.)
What about Online Backup Systems?
Ah, like those premium cloud-based backup services? I do like those! The thing about them is, they may simply be more expensive than what you need. If your files can fit in a cheaper Cloud-Based service, I’d stick with that. It’s when you really start to scale that I recommend other products.
How to back up… ﬁles that ONLY exist in the cloud.
Let’s say you’re running your business entirely on the cloud. Or you just write all of your fanfiction on Google Drive. Do you know what the Cloud Service will do if they have a catastrophic loss of your data? Ideally you can scour their TOS, but if you’re a paranoid shit like me, let’s talk about some ways to reduce the cortisol.
I gotta be real here. The easiest way for this really is a premium cloud-based backup
service. Carbonite, Crashplan, Backblaze, etc. Make sure they can back up your data and go for it. Cancel if you don’t like it. But in terms of instant relief, automatic backups are the way to go.
If you’re cheap like me, or are otherwise not ready to pay for ANOTHER backup system, here are your options.
First, if you’ve already got files on your computer that are automatically backed up to a cloud service, you’re doing pretty good. Make sure that you can access your files with the internet off. This way you know that at the very least, these files exist in 2 places. But, assuming this isn’t quite the case, here’s some ways to DIY your backup life.
Figure out how to export your data.
In order to download the files, search how to export data in your CRMs or whatever other tools you use, and get those copies. You can keep them zipped - but clearly label and date them. Then throw those files into whatever service you are paying for -whether you bought a cloud service or an external hard drive.
Didn’t buy anything?
I mean… you are more than welcome to sign up with every service and use their free allotment of data until the end of time… But just so you know, data is cheap. Get a cheap $20/year plan or a 1TB external hard drive. Anything. Something.
Make a list, and put it in your calendar.
If you’re doing this all the DIY way, make sure you know everything you need to back up, and set a recurring appointment to do it once a month.
Sigh… okay, friend. Friend. Okay. You’ve got physical files. We’ve all got physical files. You need to make sure these are digitized and backed up. Here’s the easiest way to get this done.
1. Gather your files and take photos of them with your smartphone. Zoom in on each photo and make sure the text is legible. The nice thing about most phone cameras these days is that they’ll do the trick. You don’t need a scanner, you don’t need amazing lighting. You just need it to be legible.
2. Does your phone back up your photos to the cloud? Nice, you can stop here if you want. But it could be more secure. From here, I recommend downloading the files to your computer and putting them with the other backups.
3. BACKUPNOW.SORTLATER. If you’re stalled because you know you need to rename and sort all these files, just do the bare minimum. Take the photos. Back them up. Leave them in their ZIP file if you have to. When you need the files, you’ll go and sort them at that time. But for now, you need these backed up right away.
There’s a LOT more options for backing things up. The truth is, everyone’s backup needs are different and every service is different. Backing up your data is extremely important, and I wanted to at least give you the easiest, cheapest options.
If you’d like professional help to get your backups going, or just need someone to edit, sort, and file your pictures, contact me for a free consultation!
Ochoa Business Support