Backup Plan: How we backup our critical files. (Part 1)

You don’t backup your data, do you? You know you’re supposed to and it’s been sitting on your “to do” list for the past 6 years just waiting for you to figure out some kind of a plan on how it’s all going to work. I understand. We’ve been there. The thing is, for data backups to be successful, they have to be automated and the closer to “dead simple” the better. If it’s not an automatic solution then very few people will actually do it. Lucky for you, I’m here to show you how we maintain multiple backups of our data and I invite you to copy what we do step-by-step.

You’re welcome.

Let’s break this data backup thing into two parts. This week we’ll look at our business data–all the documents and spreadsheets and CSV outputs etc. we access on a frequent basis in order to service our clients. Next week in Part 2, we’ll take a look at our website and email data and how we have multiple copies of that just in case the worst happens to our server. Let’s dive in.

Backing Up Business Data

Dropbox LogoThis is the “dead simple” part of the backup system I mentioned earlier. We use Dropbox Pro for our Business files. We signed up for a paid account ($10 per month or $100 per year), got 1 TB of space, and share one username & password for access. This affords us multiple benefits such as:

  • Everyone has access to the same files at the same time.
  • Files are instantly updated across all of our company’s computers in multiple offices in various cities. (…or in whatever coffee shop in which someone happens to be working.)
  • Every file is copied onto every connected computer which means we have the same number of backup copies as we have computers…plus one because Dropbox maintains a copy on their servers as well.
  • We have a 30 day recovery window in case a file accidentally gets deleted or our entire Dropbox folder gets corrupted by ransomware. (Yes this has happened. No it actually wasn’t a bad problem at all.)

In addition, my home desktop computer is also linked to our Dropbox account so I maintain a copy on my home computer. This is advantageous because my home computer takes hourly backups of itself, separate nightly backups of the system, and yet again separate weekly off-site backups. So even if Dropbox exploded, I have at least four copies of our files by myself. I feel comfortable that we’re not losing any of this data.

If you want to mimic this plan, all you need to do is sign up for a Dropbox account, create one folder in which to store all your files and share your login credentials with your team members. It really is that easy.

Dropbox isn’t perfect and I’m sure other companies will have different requirements for their files. Some of the limitations I can see from where I stand are:

  • Files can typically only be edited by one person at a time. (We use Google Docs for the files that need to be edited by multiple people at once.)
  • We have no access controls in place. Anyone with our login can access any files in our account. (Although this can be mitigated by upgrading our Dropbox plan.)
  • If an employee leaves our company, that person could conceivably still have access to our files even if we change the Dropbox password.
  • If Dropbox gets hacked our client files could potentially be exposed to “The Bad Guyz”™.

Despite these potential pitfalls, Dropbox has been a terrific solution for us over the past several years.

If you want a more advanced tutorial on how I personally execute my additional backup or if something isn’t clear to you about our set up, I’m happy to answer questions…just leave a comment for me below and I’ll get back to you.

That wraps up Part 1 of the “How we backup our critical files” series. Come back next week and we’ll talk about backing up all of your website data and emails.  Read my next article about how to back up all of your website data and emails.

Jerod Karam

Jerod Karam is Vice President of Technical Operations at Netvantage SEO, an online marketing company specializing in SEO, PPC and social media. Jerod consults with internal teams and external clients on all manner of technical projects, manages the flow of information surrounding the company's online objectives, manages relationships with external partners and suppliers, and is a constant bother to everyone in terms of maintaining online security.

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