It’s Sunday and I won’t be rambling on forever today’I just have a quick reminder to all you readers. It is being said so many times, over and over again, yet people often fail miserably; save your work and back it the fuck up.
Do it now because it should have been done yesterday. Nail that habit into your head, to hit Cmd+S to save every time you do something in any software. Preferably set up daily backups of your work and other important files.
What is even better is to set up auto-save in your software. This is a huge life-saver, I promise you that. One of the reasons why TextMate kicks the shit out of every other editor is that it can be configured to save your work every time the app loses focus. It’s so convenient I can’t believe why other apps so rarely offer this.
What surprised me was that Apple’s iWork suite doesn’t auto-save. That’s right. Apple’s software doesn’t offer the user-friendliness of saving your document every few minutes. Their opinion on forgetting to save and losing an hour of work on that proposal’“suit yourself, you idiot.”
After being this idiot once, I set out to find a way to do this automatically, be it by AppleScript or another programmatic way. After searching a few minutes I discovered this little application called WorkSaver, and it’s brilliant.
It’s a very simple app which sits in your menu bar. As the name says, it saves your work, giving Numbers, Pages and Keynote the very basic yet missing feature that should have been implemented by Apple years ago.
When you’ve saved your work, you need to make regular backups. You have never lost any data and your computer is a brand new beast, you say? That’s awesome, be my guest and put all your eggs in your new aluminum basket. Your client files probably aren’t worth $60 for an external hard drive.
For those of us who don’t have our heads up our asses, there are a lot of great solutions that make sure we don’t lose any data. The main players in this game are external drives, network drives and online drives, used with the appropriate back-up software.
What’s by far the most effective and convenient is the Apple Time Machine. You know how it works’it backs up your data whenever there are changes and you can enter the “time machine” to go back and easily view files using a timeline and a Finder window. Extremely easy, and works in the background so you never have to care about it.
If you for some reason prefer something else, or want an extra option, there’s another application called SuperDuper that is popular. It’s a free application which is used to schedule the backup of your hard drive to another device using one of a few different backup profiles. On the site, it’s called a “perfect compliment” to Time Machine because the backup it creates is bootable.
In my opinion, those are the only two you will ever need. Yes, I’m completely ignoring the Windows and Linux platforms in this post, sorry.
Network drives, so called NAS devices, are great for convenient storage since you don’t have to have them connected to your computer’they can house your backups in another room.
My Netgear ReadyNAS has two hot-swap trays (you can take one of the drives out of your office, for example) and RAID, plus it’s got a few nice-to-have features like a Firefly iTunes server, BitTorrent client, printer and USB stick support etc. Highly recommended’the device even has a big community around it.
As for online drives, I don’t like them. I find them to be too slow to transfer a backup of my 32GB client folder to it. I use Google Docs to house my documents though and that’s both fast and convenient. So for documents and other files, I can recommend services like Google Docs.????
Perhaps online storage drives are nice if you need to access certain files from other locations, but in my case those files are usually in Google Docs anyway. These days you can view them on iPhone’s as well so it’s all good.
None of these tools will help anyone unless they start to actually think proactively. Make it a habit to compulsively back up your data as if you were to set fire to your office before you leave every day.
If you’re concerned about confidential documents, you can always use Disk Utility to create a new encrypted and password protected disk image, and use it to store your sensitive data.
If you’re really serious about keeping your backups safe; do daily backups to an external drive and store it off-site. That way, if someone would actually set fire to your office, your backups will still be intact.
A final tip; roleplaying. Think of yourself as “CTU Los Angeles” or NSA, and see your clients as suspects in an ongoing investigation on organized crime or whatever your imagination can come up with. How would you then handle your data? Would you still say “fuck it, it’ll never happen to me”?