If you’re traveling and working from the road, one of the things you worry about on a regular basis is what happens to your data if the worst happens to your computer. I’ve had computers rocket off of cab seats, fall down stairs, and drop off of tables. I worry about the date. This is a particular concern for me since I live off the hard drive on my laptop — I don’t have a desktop “mother ship” where the data lives when I’m in the office.
One of the options I’ve considered for keeping my data safe is simply living off the cloud. I could do all my work using Google Docs or Zoho, leave my data files in the cloud, and not worry about what happens on my local hard disk. The problem with this is that I often work away from ready high-speed Internet connections, so I’m not crazy about a lack of local storage. I’m completely OK, though, with a cloud-based data security solution.
I like multiple layers of protection, and that’s what I’ve put into place for my laptop. Layer one is the backup solution built into the operating system. I try to make sure each day I get the entire system backed up. If my laptop goes to that big network in the sky, I can recreate it on a new system. If I’m on the road and need to keep working, though, it would be nice to have access to my critical files, even if the laptop is toast. That’s where the cloud comes in.
I’m using Dropbox as my second tier of security. The directory that holds all my work data is synchronized with Dropbox on a constant basis, and I can get to those files from any computer with an Internet connection. Just because I’m paranoid, I’ve also started using Microsoft’s LiveMesh to synchronize the files. As with Dropbox, I can log into my account and get the files from any Internet-connected computer.
I know that there are other, well-regarded solutions for remote backup, but I like the synchronizing aspect of my two choices (they let me effortlessly move work between my Macintosh and Windows computers) and they haven’t failed me yet. Since I live in a hurricane-prone area, I also like the fact that I have two copies of my files stored hundreds of miles away from tropical areas.
Business continuity is something that we talk about in enterprise circles, but it’s no less important for consultants and sole proprietors. What do you use as a backup mechanism? Is keeping your data safe something you worry about when you head for a major conference? Let us know…before disaster befalls someone on the road.