The Friday Backup
So I realized this week that I write the Friday Blog Roundup every Friday. And I feel like I’m pretty settled in that routine since… you know… it has been eight years of writing the series and I’ve only missed maybe 5 Fridays, ever. I’d like to add something to that real estate at the top of the Roundup post that will run every week and serve as a reminder. I’m writing this post to unpack this idea (so I can keep the weekly note in the Roundup to a small paragraph), and I will link to this post every Friday in order to help people form a new habit.
The Friday Backup.
Every week, I’m going to remind you to back up your email (yes, your email!), documents, images, blog, social media accounts, and mobile devices. Anything and everything that matters to you. Feel free to expand this idea by adding a comment below on additional places people should remember to back up and ways to back up (eg. external hard drives you love, backup plug-ins, etc).
Here are ideas on how to back up your email, documents, images, blog, social media accounts, and mobile devices in case you don’t already have a system in place.
Yes, you can back up your email, and I do this weekly. If I were ever to lose my email accounts, I wouldn’t lose my actual emails because they are saved to my hard drive (and backed up additionally on an external drive). I will state now that I’m not a fan of giving access to my email account to another cloud-based system. I know a bunch of them exist out there, and feel free to leave your favourite one in the comment section below. But I won’t use them.
Instead, download an email client that you can use offline such as Outlook, Thunderbird, or MacMail. Run your account through this client using POP or IMAP. (You will need to enter information both in your mail program and in the settings screen of you email program such as Gmail, but the whole thing should take under 5 minutes.) Start downloading your messages. This is going to potentially take hours or even days depending on the number of emails you have archived.
Once everything is current, take your account offline. And leave it offline. You’re not going to open up this email client again until next Friday when you bring the account online in order to create a backup. This way, if you lose access to your account because you are hacked or your email program is down for the moment, you can still look at all your old emails. Neat!
Do a weekly backup of your hard drive onto an external hard drive. I personally like Western Digital’s My Passport, though I don’t use the cloud feature. I like it because it plugs in like a thumb drive and unplugs when I’m not performing a backup. A terabyte of space should cost about $80… maybe less.
Back up everything. Just do a copy of the entire hard drive. This will ensure that with one click, you will have copies of your music on iTunes or your documents or your pictures. The other option is to back up certain folders, such as Pictures or Documents. But really, one click and done.
The first time you back up your hard drive, it may take hours so leave a lot of time. The next time you back up your computer, give the hard drive permission to skip anything already on the external hard drive. It should be a quick update after that first, initial backup.
Again, I’m not a fan of cloud-based services, though a lot of people use Flickr or Dropbox to back up images. Instead, I have a copy of all images on an external hard drive and I burn a copy of same images on a disc.
Some automatic backup services are a violation of your Terms of Service and can get your blog shutdown if found. Other people use free software such as Blogger or WordPress, so those plug-ins may not be accessible to them. So to be more inclusive of all blogging situations, I’m going to recommend that you do a simple “poor man’s” backup of your blog. Go into tools or a similar category and look for the word “export.” Export a copy of your blog and save it to your hard drive. This will give you a version of your posts and comments in a form that can be uploaded (if you ever need it) to a new site. Now take a screenshot of the front page of your blog so you can remember layout, etc. Lastly, cut-and-paste your posts into a Word Doc. You won’t have your comments if the shit hits the fan, though hopefully you have a copy of your comments emailed to you. Make sure your Word Doc and your backup copy are all in one folder that you can easily find on your computer. You’ll add to the Word Doc every week, so make sure it is handy.
The first time you do this, it may take a bit of time. But you’re going to do this every Friday like clockwork. In the future, it will take up about two minutes of your life.
Social Media Accounts
You can create a backup of most social media accounts. In Facebook, go into settings and choose “download a copy of your Facebook data” in general account settings. Then click “start my archive.” It takes a little while for Facebook to gather up your information, but they’ll send you an email when it’s ready for download. Save your timeline information onto your hard drive. In Twitter, go into settings and scroll towards the bottom. Click the box that says “request my archive.” Again, an email will be sent when the archive is ready for download. Save your tweets onto your hard drive. Please weigh in through the comment section if you back up Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social media sites and have a preferred method.
Take a few minutes to plug in and back up your mobile devices. Make sure you’re running the most up-to-date software. Make sure you’ve transferred purchases you made directly from the device. Make sure you’ve transferred a copy of any photos or videos off your phone or iPad. Sync your calendar and notes. Clean off any apps you’re not using. Wheeeew, much better.
Make a backup of your rss reader, so you will have access to your feeds if the site ever goes down. Every reader will be different, but with Feedly, go to the bottom of the screen where you see the three dots in the bottom left corner. Click on those dots. It will open a menu where one of the options is “organize.” Click that. Scroll to the bottom of that screen and click “save as OPML.” Then download your feed by clicking the big green button. Move the file into a folder on your hard drive labeled “rss reader backup.”
But wait, there’s more.
Download it a second time, and this time, instead of saving it, use the “open file” choice on the download. Select a program such as Excel to open the file. It should have your feed listed, one blog per line of the spreadsheet. Save this as a file too. If you ever lose access to Feedly (or the rss reader of your choice), you can use the first backup to upload your feeds elsewhere. You can use your second backup to see a list of your feeds if you want to just click on one or two.
What else do you back up weekly? Also add any services or devices you use that you love to the comment section. For the sake of reading ease, I will move information from the comment section up into the post from time to time.