Guest post by Russell Phillips.
A while ago, a friend’s laptop died, and with it a lot of important documents and research. It was under warranty, but warranties don’t cover data.
Backups are important, but people tend to think they’re difficult, and many authors aren’t very technically-minded, so they put it off until it’s too late. Here are two free and easy ways to backup your most important data.
Use these links to sign up to Dropbox or Copy. These are referral links, so using them will mean that we both get extra free space.
You get some space for free, and you can pay to get more. The free space isn’t enough to save everything, but it’s enough to store several manuscripts, plus research and notes. You can get extra free space by referring new users, or you can pay for more space.
Once you’re signed up, install Dropbox/Copy on your computer. Both work in the same way, creating a folder on your computer. Anything you put in that folder will get copied to their servers, and if you install the program on another computer, the contents of that folder will get synchronised between the computers. Your files will also be available via their website, and there are mobile apps so that you can get access to your files on your phone or tablet.
Put your most important documents in that folder, and they’ll get backed up. If you accidentally delete a file, or save over it, you can go back to an older version. Both services will synchronise between different computers (so if you update a file on your laptop, the copy on your desktop will be updated), and offer other features that some people might find useful (shared folders, online picture galleries, etc). At their most basic, however, they offer simple, automated backups.
Backup Your Mailing List and Website
Authors are frequently advised to have their own website and mailing list, instead of relying on social media. This is good advice, since it means that you’re not reliant on an external company whose priorities may not always match your own. To ensure that you don’t lose them, however, you should make sure you have your own backups. Don’t rely on the hosting company’s backups – if they go out of business, you’ll not be able to access their backups.
Depending on your website, you may be able to simply copy the files from your web server into your backup folder. If it uses a database, however, you’ll also need a copy of the database. Your hosting provider’s documentation should give directions on how to download a backup of the database. If you use WordPress, you can also use the Export facility, found in the Tools section of the dashboard. Alternatively, the Better WP Security plugin has a setting to periodically email database backups.
Your mailing list provider should offer a way to export and download your mailing list data. MailChimp and Aweber both have straightfoward, step-by-step instructions for exporting all your data.
Russell Phillips writes about military technology and history. He has also written several online tools for authors, which are available at www.rpbook.co.uk/tools.
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