More head space for creators 1 – Backup

Hello all! This blogpost finds you a little late and the reason why is also the reason for this blog post.

I got robbed of my bag not too long ago. In it was a lot of important stuff. Expensive things, like my mobile phone, and things that are important to me personally, like my notebook.
The thing I really learned the hard way that Friday is how important it is to back up the things you don`t want to lose. Thieves exist, things break, destructive weather or events can happen.

I was thinking about how I could turn this unfortunate event into something positive for me and others and so I present to you part 1 of a series: “More head space for creators.”
I will talk about backups, mental and physical health, workspaces, equipment and maybe more subjects in the future. Even though this applies to all working people probably, I’ll try to add some specific advice for artists.

With this series I hope to help you try and prevent some of the events that can give us head- and heartaches and that can steal your precious time, your important health and your money. A carefree life does not exist, but I hope these tips will help you somehow.

Today is about backing up your precious work, memories and interactions. I hope to give you some pointers to make this subject as easy and fast for you as possible.

More head space for creators - Backup

Backing up is often time consuming and boring. But losing things is even more frustrating, not to mention heart breaking. To make it easier for you I have made a worksheet that I hope will help you make this process smoother:

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WORKSHEET

Ready to go? Let’s get started:

Step 1 List all the items you want to back up

List everything that is important to you, also think about where this all is stored, how it is stored and if you can still access your work somehow when there’s a theft, fire or accident. You can use page one of the worksheet to list these things.
To help you not forget items I have listed the most common projects and items you might want to back up on page two in the worksheet linked above.

Step 2 List the services you already use

List the (online) services you use and think about if that is enough or too much. Things like Crashplan, backup software, Dropbox, Evernote and your email clients. You can use all these things in the backup process, but the most efficient and fast way for you depends on how you’re already using them and where you already store your items. You can list all of this in step 2 of the worksheet. (on the third page) Also add services you’re missing and would like to use to make your backups more automatic and easy. It’s good to do some research to find programs or plans that are right for you and the amount of data you want to store, or the flexibility you want.

Ready? Then go through your list and see if this is most efficient way for you to back up your stuff as fast and easy as possible. Also list the price. (This might help you see if you’re spending money on plans or subscriptions that you hardly use and could do without)
Cross off the things you don’t want to use. (And cancel those subscriptions)

Step 3 Preparation

From the two lists you now have, choose your preferred backup methods and put everything in it’s right place to start backing up. Automate the backup process as much as possible.

Install the software you need, place loose files in their right folders, make sure you have the right set-up you want in your cloud accounts. In other words, make everything ready so it can easily and automatically backup.

A rule of thumb is to put your digital files in at least two separate places. When a thunderstorm fries your computer by overloading it with power through the sockets in your home and your external hard drive, that holds your precious backups, was hooked up to it, chances are that external hard drive is fried too.
Before the web or cloud services people would recommend burning really precious files on a cd and bring those to someone else’s house, so in the very extreme case that your house burns down, you still have it somewhere. Nowadays you can store your files on a company’s server in the cloud and certain services even let you make backups to your friends’ or relatives’ computers remotely.

Automate your backups as much as possible. There are tons of services that you can use that schedule backups, and you can specify which folders, files and other locations to put into the process. Often times the first run is very long, but afterwards it only changes the files that you cange and then adds the new things, so that will go much smoother.
Some services even store previous versions of your files, so if you save a JPEG over a layered .PSD file no harm is done.

An example:
Photos from your devices can automatically backup to Dropbox, which is a cloud based service so it’s stored remotely, but the Dropbox folder on your internal hard disk automatically backs up to a cloud based backup service and your external hard drive.
Or: you send an email to your Evernote account, and that specific Evernote notebook is saved offline in a folder on your hard drive, which backs up to Crashplan cloud and maybe you’ve told Crashplan backup to the computer at your office.

Step 4 Backup! And create a schedule for any manual backups

Sit back and relax while your backups run.
After a (sometimes very long) time, you’ll have safely stored all the digital files, congratulations!!

If you use a service that updates your backup regularly then all you have to do every now and then, is make the time to backup the things that are not automatically stored or updated. The intervals are up to you, depending on what it is. (Not everything needs a backup every day) Use page 4 of the worksheet to come up with a schedule for these things. An example of this is backing up your website, or the contents of your photo camera.

You might also occasionally want to back up your content from your cloud-based accounts. This seems ironic, but everything can break, shut down or be hacked. You could also stop having internet for a while for various reasons. You can delete your own stuff by accident or lose access to your account.
Things like Dropbox are easy to backup. A lot of services have folders on your hard drive that you can put in an automatic backup.

Step 5 Digitize “analogue” things

So all your digital files are now safely stored in their own places. Well done!
But what of those papers, printed photos, articles, sketches, notes, even paintings that you listed? They can get stolen or destroyed too.
Even though more and more companies and people try to go paperless, you might still have a ton of “analogue” stuff lying around.

I listed this step as the last one, because this process can take months and I wanted you to start backing up your things that were ready to go as soon as possible.
If you’ve got a lot of drawings, notes etc. then you might feel super discouraged just thinking about taking photos or scans of all of it. That’s why I recommend to work in steps. Maybe grab five items every day and digitize them (starting with your most important things and work from there to the less important). There are even scanners that you can feed more than one paper at a time and it will automatically pull the papers through, these are not cheap though, so decide carefully. They`re often used by people who want to live paperless.

This will take a long time, but like I talked about in other blog posts, a lot of small steps make for a big one. Over time, more and more things will be included in your backup, where you have less chance to lose it and where you can easily access them too.

It might be good to make it a habit of regularly going through your recent notes and sketches and make photos or scans of the things you really want to keep.
A snapshot of your notes of the day and put into Evernote is easily done. It’s something I now try to do every day. I don’t want to lose any thumbnails again.

Put these photos and scans in the locations where your automatic backup will back it up for you.

If you digitized notes and papers then you could even throw things away and do some house cleaning that way. I’ll probably throw a lot of of notes away. To the artists though I want to plead to never, EVER, throw away drawings or paintings that you once liked. Unless you’re in DIRE need for space, just keep it in a folder, box (preferably one that will protect it from ageing too much) so you can see your progress and artistic growth over the years. I know some stuff will seem really bad and ugly in five years, but your 10, 20, or 30 year older self will regret not being able to see it.

So, that concludes part 1 of the new series. I hope the worksheet is helpful, if anything is unclear please let me know. Or if you have things to add, good software you use, please let us know in the comments!
Also please spread the link to this post and share the worksheet with anyone you know who might find use in this. I just want to keep you all from losing your hard work and for you to not have to worry about this, so you’ll have more energy and head space for the awesome things you’re doing!

Here’s to more creating!

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