A couple of years ago my notepad computer of the time crashed-and-burned. I almost lost all of my data files. I was not wearing my happy face.
I'm not a complete idiot. I'm not as stupid as a look (who could be?). I did make backups onto an external USB drive, but that was in my office and I'd been working from home for a couple of days. Also, it's a pain trying to remember the individual files you need to back up. The alternative is to copy everything, which takes forever.
After looking around at a bunch of different options, the solution I chose was to use DropBox. I still stand back in awe at how amazingly useful -- and easy to use -- this little beauty is.
Of course, you may already be familiar with DropBox, or you may be using an alternative solution, in which case there's no need to proceed further. If you haven’t yet implemented a backup strategy, however, then DropBox may well be of interest to you.
Here's the way it works. You start off by bouncing over to DropBox and creating a free account. As part of this, you download the DropBox application to your machine. When you install this little beauty, it creates a DropBox folder on your computer. All you have to do is to drag-and-drop any existing files and folders into your DropBox folder, at which point they will be automatically backed up into the cloud.
So you now have two copies of everything that's in your DropBox folder -- one on your computer and one in the cloud. From this point on, whenever you create a new file or edit an existing file in the DropBox folder on your machine, then as soon as you click the "Save" button it's immediately backed-up into the cloud. If you are working offline (without Internet access), then as soon as you get back online -- the next time you power-up your machine, for example -- the DropBox application will automatically re-synchronize everything for you.
If anything unfortunate should happen to your computer, you can use any web browser on any machine to access your precious data files.
But wait, there's more... What happens if you have a number of machines? For example, I have my main tower computer and two notepad computers (all running Windows 7) in my office. I know this may sound a tad excessive, but the tower is one with 16GB of RAM and three 28" monitors that I use for all the "heavy lifting." Meanwhile, one of the notepads is my UBM/EEtimes machine, while the other lives on top of the Desk Treadmill that's located in the far corner of my office.
I also have another big notepad running Windows 8 that I use at home and while travelling. Plus a much more modest notepad running Windows 7 for home use that I picked up yesterday (I'll explain why in a moment).
The great thing is that as soon as I get a new machine, I bounce over to DropBox and download their application onto this new platform. This time, instead of creating a new account, I tell DropBox that I have an existing account and provide the details (username, password, etc.). As soon as I do this, DropBox synchronizes this new machine, which -- in this case -- means downloading a copy of everything from the virtual DropBox folder in the cloud into the DropBox folder on the new computer.
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