Have you ever experienced the crushing blow of losing the files on your computer? When a hard drive fails or a computer is damaged or a phone is lost, it can be devastating — especially if you do client work that can’t be easily replicated.
Although cloud storage is so easy to come by these days, there are still people out there who don’t store their files online and properly back them up. The number one reason? Time. Most people feel like managing cloud storage is a lot of work. The second biggest reason is the expense that they feel they will incur if they used online-based storage.
If you fall into either camps, these three tips should help you manage your storage and stay on top of it:
#1 – Choose a Storage Solution that Can Grow With You
Over time, the storage of your online files will increase dramatically. Digital file sizes are only increasing so it’s important to choose something that has the capacity to grow with you. My preferred storage solution is Dropbox.
Dropbox, which has been around for a long time now, offers a smaller free account and allows you to move up when and if you need the extra space. Add to that the fact that you can install it on multiple computers and across your other devices (smartphones and tablets, for example) and it makes for an easy, streamlined solution that you can use on a long-term basis.
You can also selectively sync your files to the various places you install Dropbox.
Selective syncing is useful when you have a large number of files but only want them stored in one physical location while the rest of the devices use the cloud. I use this method on my laptop where I have a smaller hard drive — I selectively sync the most important folders and I use the web interface for the rest. Everything is still easily accessible to me, it just frees up hard disk space.
For those of you on a Mac, you can also take advantage of the auto-upload feature for screenshots that you take and if you have a smartphone, you can turn on the auto-upload feature for camera uploads so that your photos are backed up in real-time.
By the way, if there’s any doubt that I’m an avid user of Dropbox, here are my storage stats:
#2 – Less Organization is Better
If you’re the type of person that avoids storing away your digital files because you want to sort them first, ditch that idea. Seriously. Less organization is better when you’re time-strapped.
Since a service like Dropbox has a robust search function built-in, you can put all of your files into primary folders and search them when you need them. The only time I spend a lot of time organizing files is when it comes to my client’s files and that’s because I share their individual folder with them so it needs to be private, secure and accessible by more than just myself.
When it comes to my own files though, I leverage the “All Files from ‘x’ Device” folder structure (see photo) to throw everything from each of those devices into Dropbox. I’d rather it be backed up than organized beautifully and to be honest, nobody has time for ultimate file management — there are so many other things to do!
#3 – When You Do Organize, Do It Locally + Upload in Batches
One of the time consuming parts of online storage is waiting for the uploads.
I’ve seen people painstakingly upload and organize at the same time, which means they are often uploading a single file at a time, waiting for it to upload and then moving on to the next one. Instead, organize your files locally and then do a mass upload — Dropbox will run in a tab while you do other things and if you have it synched to your computer, you can drag and drop into the folders while the upload happens in the background.
I generally create the folders as I go, on my desktop, and then once a week I typically login to Dropbox and upload each batch. I can work while I do it and delete the local files and folders when I’m done. It’s quick, easy and leaves me with a feeling of security that my files are safe.
Hopefully these three tips will help you do a much needed backup of your files to the cloud. I’d highly recommend checking out Dropbox if you do — I’ve been more than happy with their service and I think you will be, too!