Murphy’s Law Strikes Again!
Several years ago I purchased an external drive to backup my client files. It was a shiny black one that, according to the marketing literature, was guaranteed to last for years to come. I copied my important client files over to the drive feeling quite satisfied that I had everything under control. A few weeks later while working on a client project, a dreadful clicking sound came from the drive. A few seconds later, it was clear my external drive had left this world!
I guess I had always assumed the word years meant at least two or more. Unfortunately, I discovered that according to Murphy’s Law, my external drive ceased to function the first time I really needed it. Of course, it had nothing to do with how long I had owned it or how many times I had used it!
Protect Your Client’s e-Learning Assets
As e-Learning professionals, we are constantly managing a plethora of e-Learning assets that we need to protect. Here’s just a few that come to mind:
- Audio files (raw and modified)
- Video files (raw and modified)
- PowerPoint assets
- Graphic assets
- Multiple revisions of course files (source files provided by client, master/revision files)
- Project documents (Proposals, Signed contracts, Project Documents, )
What Would You Do?
If your system crashes (and it will one day), what information would you lose? Could you recreate it? If so, how long would it take?If you can’t recreate it, what will happen to your client project(s) and your relationship with your client?
I encourage you to ponder these questions carefully. The last thing you want to do is find yourself several weeks into a time-sensitive client project running up against a tight deadline to finish. Believe me, that’s when Murphy’s Law will strike your drive.
A Backup Plan Just Makes Sense
It just makes sense to have a good backup plan to protect your e-Learning assets. Earlier, I mentioned that I had a brand new external drive crash a few weeks after I copied my client files over. What saved me was a backup plan that I had in place and continue to use today. In the computer industry, it’s called the 3-2-1 backup strategy.
My 3-2-1 Strategy
The three (3) in the strategy indicates the total number of copies of data I create. Two (2) of these are local but I store them on different devices and 1 copy is kept off-site. The off-site backup is what really anchors this strategy and protects me against data loss. For example, if someone breaks into my home and steals the computer, they’ll most likely take my external drive as well. If there’s a fire in my home office, having two copies of my data in the same place, increases the chance they’ll both be damaged.
Here’s a look at how I approach protecting my client data and other important files that I need to run my e-Learning business.
Organizing Data for Backup
I have a folder on my local computer named Clients. Underneath the Clients folder, I have a sub-folder for each client. I further subdivide each Client’s sub-folder into their individual projects. This approach makes it easy for me to find and work with assets on both current and past projects. It also comes in handy when I setup my backups.
Backup Copy 1
The first copy of my data is represented by the the original files that I create. These files are stored in the appropriate sub-folder under CLIENTS on my local computer.
Backup Copy 2
On a daily basis, I make a backup of this folder and copy it over to my external USB drive. Although I use Acronis True Image to automate my backups, you can either copy your files over to the folder manually or use your operating system’s native backup tool. For example, in Windows 10 you could use File History or the Backup and Restore tool.
If you are following the 3-2-1 backup strategy, you’ll see I still have one more backup to make.
Backup Copy 3
To truly protect my assets, I need to keep this backup off-site. How you do that depends upon the approach you decide to use. You could backup to another external drive and then take that drive to an off-site location but that is a lot of work! I like to keep a copy of my files in the cloud.
To create the third backup copy, I use DropBox and automatically sync the CLIENTS folder up to the cloud. By default, DropBox will save the history of all deleted and earlier versions of files for 30 days. Note: You do have the option to purchase an extended version add-on feature that will extend the period to 1 year.
Protecting Your Apps and System Files
One important thing to note here is the backups I’ve been talking about so far are called file backups. In addition to these assets, there are other important files on your computer. For example, the operating system, applications, browser history, preferences, settings, bookmarks, device drivers, etc. To protect these files, I use Acronis True Image to create a backup of everything on my c:\ drive and then save the image to my external USB drive. This allows me to recover should something catastrophic happen with my primary drive. Should I decide to upgrade and move to a new drive, I can also clone the contents and move it to the new one without having to reinstall and reconfigure all of my software.
So, there you have it! To date, I’ve never lost my client’s data and I plan on keeping it that way. What type of backup plan do you use?