You know you need to regularly back up your computer files. In fact, ProfHacker has already encouraged you to consider using an online back up service to store copies of your valuable data in the cloud.
However, if you use a lot of cloud-based services, you may also need to consider developing a backup strategy for your cloud data as well. For instance, what would you do if you were suddenly locked out of your Google account? Or, more precisely, what couldn’t you do?
Social media consultant Chris Brogan recently wrote about his experience being locked out of all Google services. (This can happen when Google detects “abnormal usage” and will result in your account being locked for up to 24 hours.) Although his access was restored, his experience points to the day-to-day reliance many of us have upon various cloud-based services, such as Gmail, Google Docs, Flickr, etc.
Plan Your Backup Strategy
If you don’t already have a solid back up plan in place, PC Magazine‘s “Back Up or Else” article provides a good basic introduction to different kinds of back up strategies and methods. Although this article is geared towards users seeking to back up local files on a computer, the same basic principles apply to backing up your cloud-based files.
If you want to get serious about backing up your files, you don’t want your backups to be kept in the same place as the originals. That’s why cloud-based backup strategies make sense, since if a flood sweeps through your building you could see your backup hard drive destroyed along with your primary computer. The same should hold true for your cloud-based files. Sure, maybe floods or fires won’t destroy that data, but servers can be compromised, your internet access could go down, and Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies can change their policies in ways that may alter your access to your files.
Back Up Gmail
One of the simplest (and free) ways to back up Gmail is to install the mail program Thunderbird and have it collect and store copies of all your Gmail messages to your computer using POP access. Unlike Outlook, Thunderbird stores email messages in a simple text file format, which makes accessing them much easier in the event you should need to. A full step-by-step description of the process is given in this EHow article. If you use another web-based email service such as Yahoo or Hotmail, you may need to pay for premium service to have POP access so that Thunderbird can collect your files.
Back Up Your Photos
If you upload pictures into Flickr or another photo-sharing site from your computer, then you probably have a copy of them already stored (and backed up, right?). But if your hard drive crashed, or if you upload pictures directly from your camera or phone, you might want to check out open source FlickrEdit.
Back Up Your Google Documents
If you’re using Google Documents as a convenient tool for teaching and collaboration, you may want to try GDocBackup (now for Windows, Linux, and Mac), which backs up only those documents that are not present on your hard drive or have a different revision date.
Back Up Services for the Cloud