Data Backup (& Sharing) For Bloggers

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data-backup-sharing-bloggersData backup (and sharing) can be tough.

As bloggers, it can get complicated.

In this post, I'll cover:

  1. Why data backup is critical (and complicated)
  2. How we manage our data
  3. Specific tools and services we use and recommend

Why Do Data Backups Matter?

It is easy to rely on your computer and maybe a couple of flash drives.

But what happens when your computer goes awry?

It could be a misplaced cup of coffee, a failed hard drive or even a theft. Your data is something you need to worry about.

As a blogger / online business owner, your data is your business. What would happen to your business if you lost your data? Everything, including accounting, photos, client information/projects, site backups, etc? For most businesses, it probably means starting over. If you aren't using a blog backup system (like BlogVault) then your only copy of your actual site data would only be online.

For Dena and I, data management is kind of complicated.

Why is Our Data Management Complicated?

  1. We Run Five Websites (two client sites and three of our own): Plus we have business and data files. And we have personal/family photos (that tend to grow quickly – we live in a pretty amazing place). We also have a large set of movies and music that we ripped before we moved to Ecuador.
  2. Content Trips and Interviews Generate Lots of Data: Two weeks ago, we interviewed a lawyer here in Cuenca. While the editing isn't finished yet, we'll probably create about 10 minutes of finished video (in 3-4 short videos). But we generated over 9GB of data during the interview. Also, last month we visited the Galapagos for an 11-day content creation trip. Between the three of us, we had four cameras: a dSLR, a GoPro and two small Canon point-and-shoots. Every day, we generated an average of 15GB of content (photos and videos). At the end of the trip, we had 166GB of content (more than 15,000 photos and videos). While we shoot with a variety of memory cards (from 4GB to 32GB) there is just no way to properly manage this volume of data without a hard drive. Not only is it an overwhelming volume of data, but it is almost impossible to replace.
  3. Large Downloads: We frequently download programs and videos for review. In fact, a few months ago, I found 3 downloaded versions of Adobe Creative Suite (now called Creative Cloud) in my review folder for my Online Business site. Together, they totaled almost 20GB in data. Two of them were out of date, and the third one probably isn't necessary either. Because of the amount of data we manage these files got lost in the shuffle.

While I try to be somewhat proactive with the data that we manage, it still adds up quickly. Without a solid backup system, our whole business would be at risk of failure from just one mistake.

Two Online Backup / Share Services We Use

The two online services that we use are: SugarSync and Dropbox. Along with premium subscriptions, both companies offer basic – and completely free – accounts. SugarSync offers a free 5GB account and Dropbox has a free 2GB account. These aren't trials or limited offers. They are fully functioning, long-term services.

If you signup for free a account with the links below you'll get an additional 500MB in free storage. (These aren't affiliate links – but if you use these links, we'll both get a bonus of free space.)

We use both of these services at the same time. Here's how we use them:

Data Backup and Sharing with Online Services

Both SugarSync and Dropbox basically work the same. You choose which files and folders you want to:

  1. be backed up to their secure online server
  2. be synced across your connected devices
sugarsync-vs-dropbox

Dropbox folder (Dropbox) and Magic Briefcase folder (SugarSync)

With online backup, you can access your data whenever you want. Even if your computer catches fire / gets stolen / stops working all of your data is safe. Just get a new computer and connect it to your account. Your data will automatically be downloaded to your computer.

With sync across devices, you can automatically share files or whole folders with your other devices or even other members of your team.

SugarSync Review

Because of how much data we manage, we have a premium data package of 500GB. The peace of mind is worth every dollar. And while we are traveling, we can access all of our files online.

I used to use Carbonite for our backups, but it was clumsier and less flexible. With SugarSync, it is very easy to access all our files online.

Signup for your free 5GB SugarSync Account

Dropbox Review

We use the free Dropbox service (you get 2GB for free) to sync data across our devices. We have Dropbox installed on three office computers and a mobile device.

Here's how it works: 

A file of any kind (photo, document, video) can be saved or copied to the Dropbox folder. It automatically syncs across all devices. Instead of using flash drives or email, we just sync the file and we all have instant access to it.

For example: if Dena has a file she wants me to look at, she saves it to the Dropbox folder on her computer. It instantly arrives in my Dropbox and I can review it.

Data Sync Tip: We only put copies of files into our Dropbox. This ensures that the originals never get lost. Every once in a while I go into Dropbox and clean it out. We use it like a common file cabinet – but where only photocopies exist. We use our SugarSync account much differently. We use it to back up all of our files/folders.

Signup for your free 2GB Dropbox account

On-Site Backup: Hard drives 

In addition to the online / off-site backups, we backup everything on hard drives here in our office.

I have two LaCie hard drives and one large Western Digital My Book Live 3TB (that connects to my router and backs up all the devices on the network). I use the two LaCie drives to mirror each other and the large drive keeps an automatic and current copy of everything.

When we travel, we use a Western Digital My Passport drive. It is very small and we use it for backing up our data, especially photos and videos, while we are on the road.

On a side note, I just purchased a Seagate Barracuda 3TB internal drive for my desktop computer. Once I figure out how to install it, I'll have lots of extra space…

How do you manage your data? What online services do you use?

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Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is co-founder of WiseGuides.ca (Nova Scotia travel blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for Canadian travel brands). Bryan is also an avid photographer. Check out ClickLikeThis, a GoPro tutorial blog he runs with his wife, Dena.

7 comments… add one
  • Beth Jun 28, 2013, 12:47 pm

    Oh am I overwhelmed. I started reading “your stuff” because I am ready to re-enter the blogging world. I had three blogs about three years ago. I was such a novice but things were improving. This is so beyond me. I am sure after I commit to a domain name, it is scary, I will get all of this. I am slow to make decisions that cost money. I am tired of being tied to Dayton Oh and hope to move to Quenca. Guess I am off topic now. I love your blogs and all the info you offer. Thanks so much.

  • Joanna May 17, 2013, 9:07 am

    Hi Bryan,
    For professional desktop backups, company I work for uses CrashPlan. It’s a true online backup (not a sync like dropbox) and very powerful. We use the professional version but there is a free version as well. As for our blog and personal files, we used Box.com and SkyDrive. Both are excellent and reliable. They function essentially the same as the two you describe in the post. I’ve tried Dropbox and a Gdrive as well but in my opinion the sync is by far best on SkyDrive (requires least amount of updates and babysitting). You also get 25Gb for free if you had an old Hotmail account or 7Gb if you did not. For our blogs, we use Blue Host and they have great backup options built-in for free. One can download an off-site copy that includes the blog and its related databases.

    • Bryan Haines May 17, 2013, 4:09 pm

      Nice, sounds like you have a good system.

      What do you mean when you say that CrashPlan is a true online backup? In order for it to actually work, it needs to sync new and changed files between online and on computer.

      • Joanna May 20, 2013, 9:54 am

        So, CrashPlan runs continually in the background. It doesn’t do daily or even hourly backups, it does “continuous, silent, minute-by-minute” backup. It also provides unlimited size backup plans. We’ve only just rolled it out here at work but it’s pretty slick.

        • Bryan Haines May 20, 2013, 3:14 pm

          Nice, I haven’t used CrashPlan but sounds great – especially the unlimited backups. Sugarsync also does a “live” backup, monitoring file changes and backing them up as they happen.

  • Ken Wilhoite May 14, 2013, 6:07 am

    Bryan, in my office is an HP dvt7 with a multi-gigabyte hard drive…that has failed. I don’t have an accessible backup because the physical drive can’t be read. Do you have a schematic or process flow diagram for your backup system? We don’t have anything like your data sets (in scale, anyway), but the 4,000 photographs and 50 gigs of data files are important us. I’m trying to learn how not to lose our data again!

    • Bryan Haines May 14, 2013, 6:32 am

      Our system is primarily based on the automatic, online system (SugarSync). Everything is on our hard drives and then duplicated from there. A WD My Book Live will automatically create of backup of everything on your office computers – it plugs directly into your router.

      And every once in a while, I create a manual backup on our other hard drives. It really gives me peace of mind to know that it is all secure in the cloud. At just 50GB of data, a premium plan isn’t very expensive and it is easy to sync with others in your office.

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