Creative’s nightmare: backup system failed

All it takes is to happen to you is to once loose your data and you will suddenly know how to create your own failproof backup system and stick to it even if the ground is shaking and everything around you is falling apart.

We often postpone this task because when you remember you should do it, it’s already a huge undertaking and you just avoid wasting time and spending money on a new hard drive. But when it happens, your hopes and dreams are shattered in a matter of seconds and you use your greatest efforts to justify the situation and explain why it wasn’t your fault.

Believe me when I say I know how that feels. I’ve been there, I’ve done the stupid thing of not backing up my data and lost a huge business project I was working on for six months. It was all gone and there wasn’t a way to start over. It didn’t make any sense.

The truth is, it’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility. We are all creatives and in today’s world, we all have digital work stored on our computers; from photos, videos, texts, analytics to graphics, blueprints and other projects. Artist or no artist you have your work on your computer that could cost you a lot more then money and a nervous breakdown. You have client work, reputation, plans and your entire career’s work to weight in. Are you ready to loose that?

Let’s set some basic guidelines to help you create your own backup system:

1. ORGANIZE your work

It is so easy mess up your data structure; you start out with a fresh set of folders on your computer, but when you’re in a rush you open up a couple of new ones that you don’t have time to organize now so you leave it for later. They pile up quickly and you never seem to get them in order. When you don’t have a clear and simple organization on your files, there is no way you can back them up.

Find your own way of naming and organizing your files depending on the type of files you use and the important information regarding those. Use dates, project names, client names, destination names or topics for reference. Put the most important thing first and then follow others by order; write it in the same order for ALL of your files.

2. Differenciate the ORIGINAL work from EDITED

We always have the original, raw work that we create. Keep a copy of that work separate from the copies that you make once you start editing. It can be the first draft of the book, a photo we just took, video cuts before we uploaded them to a program to work on them, raw unassembled data, or basics of a blueprint that we can take and redo or build upon. Keep a copy of the original work and then find a way most convenient to you to update and save the edited versions. Use the same system to name the edited versions to recognize the stages of your work after you’re done or when you come back to it after some time.

3. Make MULTIPLE copies

Internal and external hard drives fail from time to time, servers crash. It’s nothing new or unpredictable. Although you can do data recovery in many cases, it will cost you a lot more the investing in another external hard drive. You don’t need to make 10 copies, but two or more are advisable depending on the load of digital data you produce and work with. A company that produces video will have to put a lot more effort into it then a graphic designer.

4. Choose the STORAGE MEDIUM

Take into consideration your priorities and habits. Do you prefer your data far away where someone else takes care of it or you like to have it close on your hard drive? Do you always have internet connection or you often like to unplug to concentrate on your work and nothing else?

Use external hard drives or online services that provide data storage on their servers. Don’t use cd and dvds. They are unreliable, easy to loose and break, store small amounts of data and have expiration dates. If you’re not sure which device or service you want to use, just search for up-to-date reviews and you’ll easily make a good choice.

5. Backup your files OFTEN

And by often I mean every day or every week depending on how much data you produce or edit. Wating for months to do your backup is like not doing it at all. You have no reference work, no copies and your organization falls apart quickly.

6. Create a SYSTEM and a HABIT of backing up you data

Make your backup an effortless process. The only way to keep up doing it is to have your files always in order and find a way to do it quickly without figuring out what’s new and what you’ve already stored. You can set up automatic backup, use the naming to easily recognize what’s new or do something else you find fitting.

7. Don’t keep your multiple backups TOGETHER

Oh, and don’t keep two external hard drives with the same information in the same place. That would make no sense, but we usually don’t think about that. Just in case a huge meteor falls on your house, your room catches fire or something else equaly probable happens, your efforts won’t be wasted.


What about you? Have you created your own superpower failproof backup system that you can share with us?

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