Do you back up your files?

Well do you? I should, I once had a pc crash on me and I lost three years’ work in seconds.  To say I was mortified is an understatement, and I confess the language was pretty choice too.

Okay it was back in the bad old days of Windows NT, but I did learn an important lesson.  Don’t store anything of importance in the My Documents folder.  My profile corrupted and everything from My Documents was lost. I was advised that I should have stored everything in a folder on C drive.  Don’t you just love hindsight advice.  I was very good; I didn’t hit the poor man, even though it was all his fault for fiddling with my machine.  After all, I had only spent three hours writing my beloved spread sheet in the first place.  All my templates, reports, correspondence, training notes, gone!

I suppose I was fortunate in that I had shared several documents with a colleague in a different branch via email, so she was able to send me some of the work back, including my beloved spread sheet, and many of the training notes I had sweated blood over.

But did I learn? Did I do a weekly back up? Well partly no because there was no suitable media to back up on to. The server was so old you could only have a file name 6 digits long and I swear there was more storage on a blank DVD than on that thing.  I wasn’t allowed a CD writer; it cost money you know, even though I offered to install it myself.  I managed to obtain a USB drive and save some of the important things and eventually, my pleas were answered and I was allowed to install a CD writer.

But the problem with that was firstly remembering to do it, and more importantly finding the time to do it.  Now tell me who hasn’t been there!

Now how many of you have automatic backup systems in your corporate environment, do you remember to check that they are working? I went on an IT course once and they logged on to my company server and advised me my backup hadn’t actually worked for six months! How embarrassed was I, despite me regularly swapping the tapes, no one had ever shown me how to check it was working.

Since then, I have had two hard drives fail on me. It’s not nice, it’s very inconvenient and you can guarantee there is always something you forgot to back up!

I have portable hard drives, CD and DVD writers, USB sticks and what good are they if you forget to actually back up!

So when I set up the business it was vital to me that I found some way of backing up without thinking about it.  But I wanted more…I know, typical woman, never happy!

I tried a few systems and looked at costs and recommendations and then did my usual and went off and did my own thing anyway.  I chose to use Sugar Sync.  It does backup without me thinking about it, as long as I don’t do all my files it is within my budget, and best of all, it syncs files between my computers and my iPod Touch/iPhone.  I can also share folders with clients as well.

I download a small piece of software on each machine I want to sync with. That’s all. I then set up the folders I want to sync.  I personally chose not to sync music and pictures as these are all personal and take up a lot of space and try and remember to back them up to a portable hard drive every so often.  Most of the pictures are on CD anyway or stored on Photobox website from when I ordered them.

I can access my files from any pc with an internet connection, I can email a file to a client from any pc.  I am sat writing this blog on my netbook but the file will be there, in the blog folder on my laptop just a few moments after I hit save.  I don’t have to mess around with usb memory sticks, cart around a portable hard drive or pay a fortune for it either.  And it will sync files between a Mac and a PC. You can find more information on Sugar Sync here, including a free 2GB storage to start you off. Sugar Sync

I also have the Outlook add in for backing up outlook, which came in very handy after the last hard drive failure, which can be found here

So listen to someone who has been there, done that and has the tshirt. Back up your important files.  Write a diary note if you have to, stick a post it to your screen, do whatever you need to do, but back up!


  1. Great article.

    I would also suggest some more off site backups. The first being Microsoft Live Mesh which offers you 5gb of free storage and the other is a paid service Carbonite that offers you unlimited storage and encryption for your sensitive data

    I would also recommend using server software too that can automatically back up your work to removable media and off site. Something like Microsoft Data Protection Manager (this would be for Medium sized businesses upwards and Windows Only)

    Anyway, great article and its lovely to see others taking backup seriously. It can be very crippling for a business if you don't backup.


  2. We back up data paranoically, though like yourself - thats only because of past experience! Most people have to learn this one the hard way, sadly.

    Because we do a lot of out-sourced development work, we quite often end up consulting on clients development set-ups - and backups are a common failing - coupled with the lack of source control which we tend to see in certain types of organisations, this can be lethal - image if you've lost all the code for a client project - ouch!

    Luckily it's easy to put these things right - far easier to get it all in place before you need it..! :)

  3. Great post Helen.

    This is something that can so easily be missed or taken for granted.

    As most people I learnt the hard way. Losing 6 years worth of emails at the start of this year. The company had a backup system in place, but it was pointing to the wrong place so it was saving the wrong files!!

    I backup all my company files every two weeks to an external drive and once a week online. Due to the nature of my business I also keep all customer data on a seperate PC with no access to the web and move it across via USB everytime I make an update...

    Paranoid much? You bet I am....


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