data backupDo you back up your data?

Do you back up your website?

Do you back up anything?

A solid backup plan should be a critical element of your business success plan.

Let’s start with backing up data from your hard drives. Whether you use a mirrored system, a raid, DVDs or an online backup system, you need to have a plan in place for backing up the data on your computer’s hard drive. It is not a matter of IF your hard drive will fail, but when.

Whether you are a writer, photographer or social media manager or you just use your computer to pay bills, organize recipes, keep your journal or play games, you have data on your computer that you do not want to lose. During my years as a photography studio owner, I had a hard drive crash about every 18 months. Yet, I never lost any information (except the time I forgot to backup my Outlook address book—but thankfully, I had an older backup). It happens. I have heard many sad stories of business people who lost hundreds and even thousands of dollars when work was lost because a hard drive crashed and they had no backup.

No matter what system you choose—and in my opinion an automated system that doesn’t require you to remember to do it usually works best—make sure you are consistent and get it done. While there are programs out there that recover data (I’ve used more than one) and there are services that will attempt to recover your hard drive, these can be expensive and success is not a guarantee. One photographer friend had to re-photograph a dozen portrait sessions when her new hard drive crashed and the drive turned out to be unrecoverable. Thankfully, they weren’t weddings.

Many computer users fail to consider data backup systems, either because they simply haven’t thought about it, because they think it will be too much work or because it will “never happen to them.”

I know better.

Don’t assume your web host keeps a backup of your site available. Most of them don’t. And if they do, there’s no guarantee that it’s as current as your latest updates. My websites are backed up on a regular basis by a free plugin called the WordPress Database Backup. At specified intervals the plugin backs up my system and sends me a compressed file so that if anything happens to my site I can easily restore it.

My critical hard drive data gets regularly backed up to an external drive, making it easily accessible if I need an old document or need to restore an entire folder. If I did not have my current system in place, I would probably use an online backup service. Before either system was readily and affordably available, I scheduled monthly backups of all new or changed data files and I backed up each photography job to a CD or DVD at each stage of production. As a result, I’ve not had to call my clients with the bad news that the hard drive crashed and I lost their priceless images.

It was time consuming, but the peace of mind was well worth it. I’m glad backing up my data is so much easier now.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

When was the last time you backed up your data?

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