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by Carol Shaw, MITA Reader editor
While skimming through some old Reader issues, I came across one from October of 2007 that brought a rush of memories. Nearly ten years may have passed, but who could ever forget the sucker punch of having both their computer and their backup crash within hours of each other?
Services like Carbonite and Mozy were just getting started and the most common way to back up one’s computer files was with CDs, DVDs or external hard drives. I simply used my late husband’s computer once a week as my “external hard drive”, and occasionally burned a secondary backup CD. It seemed safe enough – until the day both computers crashed and I found that nothing I had worked on that week was backed up. Not my work in progress, not my accounting files, nothing.
That was the day I got serious about backups.
Over the last ten years, my backup systems have adjusted according to technology. Today, I use Carbonite on both my desktop (the workhorse) and my laptop (traveling office). The online service continually sweeps my computers for new or updated files, and backs them up. This data is all stored offsite. If my home were burglarized or destroyed, my data would still be encrypted, protected and available to me.
There are other excellent online backup programs as well. PC Magazine recently published a comparison of the best options available today: you can find their article here.
Why an offsite backup service, rather than Dropbox, OneDrive or other cloud-based storage? Let’s take a look at the kinds of files you would need to restore in the event of a catastrophic crash.
Calendars: when your computer crashes, the last thing you need is to wonder where you’re supposed to be, or what you’re supposed to deliver.
Current projects: without your current translation, editing, transcription or other project files, your income can suffer an immediate hit.
Past projects: both new and old. Not only do you need to make sure anything recently completed has been invoiced, but the archives you’ve built up over the years offer a wealth of information for new jobs and provide context for work from existing clients.
Tax and accounting records: who have you billed? Who hasn’t paid their bill? And what do you owe Uncle Sam?
Media files: do you have pictures or recordings that wouldn’t get picked up in a simple document backup?
You may even want to backup system files. Dropbox, OneDrive and other cloud storage services may not have the space – that’s not what these cloud-based services were designed to do. You may not have the time, or may forget, to do a daily (at least) backup.
If my system crashed today and I was forced to buy a new computer, all I would need to do is sign into Carbonite with my new computer and instruct the program to do its thing. Several hours later, my new computer would be populated with all of my data except for the actual programs themselves.
And speaking of programs: create a file containing a list of every program you have purchased and installed on your computer, including the version, license number and date of purchase, if available. It can save you time and frustration when reinstalling programs on a new computer.
In today’s digital world, our computers serve as our storage, staff and communications hub. By protecting them, we protect our business from loss – and ourselves from a major ordeal.