When it comes to running our businesses, there always seems to be more work than time which is why we often ignore those things that are important but not urgent. Well consider this your wake up call.
At any moment your computer could crash, get hacked, stolen, have a hardware failure… and not only will your business be at risk but, trust me, it’s also very stressful.
Here’s our 3 step system to ensuring all of our business data is protected and accessible.
Step 1: Use the Cloud
By now everyone has heard of “the cloud” and whether you love it or distrust online storage solutions, they’re here to stay. And cheaper than you could imagine.
If all of your data is on a physical drive such as USB memory drive, external hard drive or computer then check out this comprehensive article on “the cloud” and your options.
But here’s the thing… don’t wait for the perfect solution. Pick one and stick with it. We love Dropbox and it’s new 1TB solution for business is ideal!
Action Step: Sign up for a cloud account just for business and link it to your business computers for easy uploading.
Step 2: Don’t dump files, organize them
The worst thing about a sudden computer crash is that you’re trying to save anything you can and often don’t care where it ends up. This strategy of “throw everything in a bag and go” is like moving by putting ALL of your belongings in a truck and dumping it in the living room of your new place.
No one is going to feel motivated to sort through that mess.
Instead, consider a few of the categories that your files fall into and set up folders, and subfolders, as much as necessary to capture your data. Let me give you an example using our video files:
Main folder: SGS – Videos
Sub folders: SGS – Raw Video Footage, SGS – edited videos, SGS – optimized and final videos
Main folder: SGS – Legal Contracts
Sub folders: SGS – Current client contracts, SGS – Past client contracts, SGS – Team member contracts
Now, that’s what works for me, it’s entirely possible that your brain arranges data much differently so use what works for you.
Action Step: Instead of creating 1,000 folders, make new ones as you move over files from your computer.
Step 3: Put it on auto-pilot or make a date
With some cloud solutions you can enable a regular backup that scans the folders you select and updates any file with the newest version. You’ll want to make sure the syncing doesn’t slow down your computer but that starts getting very technical and out of my depth!
If you would rather not auto-sync your data then make a date. Personally, I love weekly reminders on Friday to update the most recent files and take anything stored exclusively on my computer and move a copy to the cloud.
Note: When I’m doing a lot of copy writing or in the middle of the launch I might do this daily – losing all that work? Sucks.
While the initial migration might feel like a never ending project, once you get it set up maintenance is fairly simple. Best of all is knowing that your business won’t be crippled by losing all of your files.
Action Step: Add an hour or two to your calendar each week (make it recurring for simplicity) to either move files to a new storage solution or maintain the system.
Now, you might be looking at a pile of USB drives and maybe even own an external hard drive and thinking “how does this fit in?”
Bonus Step: Once you’ve got your hard drive handled, going through those USB drives is the next step. Copy anything you still need to the cloud storage.
USB drives are fairly cheap these days so I’ve made it a point to clear and toss any under 1GB (yes I still had a 250MB drive hanging around…) and then save the rest for sending files to the printer in town or for personal use. For example, make copies of loan docs, car titles and your birth certificate and put that drive in a safety deposit box or safe.
USB drives are not ideal storage solutions for your business files.
If you have an external hard drive you might find it’s useful for large file storage, such as all those video heavy courses you purchased and want for reference. After moving all our files to the cloud the 2TB external hard drive will be primary back up for all those personal files and photos.
Action Step: Don’t forget about your personal files and find a solution that you’re comfortable with for those pictures, bank documents and such that are NOT accessible by your team. Your motto here is “don’t cross the streams!”