Welcome to the latest installment in my newsletter where I share tech tips, news, and other info you can use to advance your author career.

I'm trying something new, and I want to know what you think. 

Earlier this week I had an email conversation with a reader who had joined the mailing list a couple months ago but hadn't gotten any newsletters. As you would expect, this was an oh, shit moment, and I immediately looked into the matter.

It turns out he had gotten them, only they hadn't made an impression.  I will discuss what this taught me about newsletters in a future newsletter, but one conclusion I reached was that I should be sharing info that readers can use right away.

To give you an example, the topic of today's newsletter is backups. But rather than talk about backing up your website (a service I can provide) I am going to focus on backing up your files (a topic that matters to everyone).

Are you backing up your files the right way?

 

31 March is World Backup Day, and it’s a great time to establish a policy on backups. Businesses, freelancers, and creators are losing huge amounts of data every day, purely because “backing up”’ is stuck the last thing on their to-do list. So this is your reminder, that even if you only do this once a year when the calendar tells you to, it’s time to flip that to-do list and make it happen!

But how? What’s the easiest, most effective way for you to backup your files?

There are many opinions on backups, but the minimum safe standard for backups is the 3-2-1 strategy. This means having 3 copies in total, with two of the copies stored locally such as on your computer and an external drive, and a third backup in the cloud. Using this strategy keeps your files safe when disasters strike and is an investment in your future.

But what should you use for that third copy in the cloud?

While some use Dropbox or another sync service, that's not actually the best choice, and I can explain why

You've probably heard of file backup services by a number of names: Cloud Sync, Cloud Backup or Cloud Storage. They’re all similar enough to be confusing and meaningless enough to be anything. Here’s what they mean and which one you need today.

Cloud Sync

Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc are services that sync up with a single folder on your computer. They mirror it. When a file changes in one, the sync service rushes to change it on your computer too, so they are always the same. Cloud Sync services are great if you are squeezing in a few quick tasks while riding the train to work, or need to work on a project from a borrowed computer while at a conference. They’re ridiculously easy to use, require no training, and the free tiers are enough for most users.

This all sounds amazing, right? It is, except ... when things go wrong, they go wrong big time.

Accidentally deleting a file means it disappears from the Cloud Sync drive - almost immediately. Overwriting a file does the same thing, and if your VA or editor makes edits to the wrong file, then those edits are there to stay. If disaster strikes and your local copy becomes corrupted (or ransomed), well you guessed it, the corruption is uploaded too.

While some Cloud Sync services such as Dropbox will save older versions of a file for up to 30 days to 120 days, you may not notice the file was damaged within that time. This is why Cloud Sync services are fantastic for productivity and accessing files on the go, but they simply can’t be relied on as your backup.

Unless, of course, you disable or delete the app that syncs your local folder with the cloud.  For example, I use Dropbox to share files, but I don't automatically sync anything. Instead I manually upload the files using a web browser.

Cloud Storage

Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, etc are massive buildings full of storage drives that work just like your local hard drive, except you access them securely via the internet. In fact, when you use a cloud sync service such as Dropbox, they’re actually sending your data to drives in one of these locations.

And so can you. You can lease space on Amazon S3 or another cloud storage service on a per/GB basis yourself and upload your backups as desired. This won’t update with changes on your local network, but your files will be safe from any disaster short of Amazon's entire server network going down. When you need to retrieve a file, you simply login and download it.

Your backed up data is secure, protected against disaster, and available to you from virtually anywhere with internet access. 

However, because it relies on you or your VA to handle the backup plan and manually take care of the uploads, this is not an ideal solution. Unless you are scouring your computer each day/week/month for changes to files and uploading them with fervent dedication, chances are this plan won’t work.

That's why I think you should go for an automated or out-sourced solution so you can get on with writing AND be protected.

Cloud Backup

Carbonite, Backblaze backup, Crashplan, etc might not be names you’ve heard before, but that is actually a good thing because backup services really only come to anyone's attention when they fail.

These services rely on apps that run in the background on your computer to monitor changes to files and make sure you’re backed up. You can roll back individual files or whole drives, and even select from earlier backups, not just one.

Like cloud sync services, they use cloud storage centers with extra-high security and redundancy so that your data is always there when you need it. Even better, neither you nor your VA need to do more than periodically check to make sure that the service is still backing up your files.

The Option You Need

The best solution for backups is one of the automated cloud backup services.They are the safe choice because they do virtually all the work for you, guaranteeing that your files are secure and enabling you to get back to writing.

The Digital Reader

9073 Center St, Manassas
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