How to completely back up your freelance life
As a freelancer, you enjoy the freedom of not working for a boss, not having set work hours (unless you set them yourself) and not having to give credit to anyone when things go right. The downside is that you also have to give credit to yourself when things go wrong. And things will go wrong.
I'm sure every freelancer with a year or more under their belt can tell a horror story about how they've lost files, contacts or other important documents because they weren't careful enough to back things up and make sure there was a security system in place for their business - myself included.
So in today's article I want to discuss the many ways you can back up your freelance life - and why you should. We'll be covering offline back ups, online back ups and back ups that are a mixture of technology and a bit of good old fashioned business sense. One of the main reasons I am writing this article is because of a recent issue I had, and a restless, sleepless night that followed, which caused me to jump into high gear and get things set up for myself and my business.
The peace of mind that comes with it is priceless, I assure you.
First, lets look at some offline backups
The first thing I want to discuss is the one item that caused me so much headache and worry - offline back ups of your files. You know, those important files like Photoshop designs for your clients, contracts, stock images you've spent months (or years) compiling, brushes, fonts and so on.
So, how can you back your files up and ensure that you're safe, regardless of what happens?
External hard drives
Yes, I said drives with an S attached to the end of it. I recommend getting two, and here's why. The first one you get can be the one you back up your files on every night. This one will be your main source of back up and will be somewhere close to your desk (I have mine sitting on my desk next to my speakers).
The second hard drive will be the one that you back up to weekly or even monthly if you want to, but you're going to keep this one in a special place - inside of a fire proof safe. This way, if for some horrible reason your house catches on fire, you're files are still safe. They've got water proof & fire proof safes you can purchase at places like Wal-Mart for pretty cheap (under $100) which is what I'd recommend doing.
As for the type of hard drive you need, this is the one I just bought recently (I still have to get my safe and second hard drive) - a WD My Book Essential 500GB - (no affiliate link). It's awesome, easy to set up and use and is small, so it doesn't clutter my work area at all. Of course, you'll want to look around and see which one will be best for you, but I've heard a lot of positive reviews about this one.
Paper documents and filing cabinets
I've had a 2 section filing cabinet in my office for around a year now, and it's been a junk drawer for the entire time. Last week, I emptied it out, bought the hanging folders with tabs for naming them and sectioned off 10-15 folders. By doing this, I'm able to save any sketches I create for client website designs, save documents and files that I've had to sign and also keep track of bills and other various items that come in paper format.
I also bought my filing cabinet from Wal-Mart (I'm from the country, what do you expect - we love this place) for about $40.00 and it's been a great investment. You can get your filing cabinet from anywhere - IKEA, Office Max, or any stores in your local area. They're inexpensive, but are great for keeping copies of all of your documents.
More back ups outside of your house
Do you have a friend or family member that you can trust? Why not get more back ups of your files (hard drives, paper documents, ect) and take them over to their house for safe keeping. You never can be too safe these days. If you don't really want to entrust your friends or family with the files, you can always buy a storage container or a safe deposit box at a bank.
So where are all the online backups?
Now that you've (hopefully) taken care of the offline back ups, it's time to look into backing things up online. Why do both? You can never be too safe, that's why. You'll be mad at yourself forever when your computer crashes and you lose 6-12 months worth of work and downloads. Trust me, it is not fun. Backing files up online can actually be pretty easy and there's a couple ways you can do it.
If you're looking for a company that has an app for your computer that backs up the files for you automatically, this is the solution you'll like the most. There are free solutions out there that can back up up to 2gb of files for you as well as paid options with much higher space. A couple of great companies to check out are found below.
- iDrive - 2GB for free / 150GB for $4.95 per month
- Spideroak - 2GB for free / $100+ GB for $10.00 per month
The beauty of these types of back up systems is that they have automatic back ups, so you're able to set it for a time when you're not on the computer (3-4am) and it will back up your files for you.
Your own hosting account
If you've got a good host and you've got a lot of extra space, this solution could be great for you. A simple way to back up your files here is to create a folder with a random name (something like 534dfdf56sdfg would work, as you can easily find it in your cpanel or ftp, but don't need to link anyone to it or remember the exact name). Once you've created it, start uploading your folders if important items, just like you would if you were transferring them to an external hard drive or online storage service like we talked about above.
How do YOU back up your freelance life?
Now I turn it over to you, my kick ass readers to see what you do in order to back up your freelance life. I know I can learn some things from you, so drop a comment and let me know what special ways you back up your freelance life.