Digital Backup: Setting Up the Backup

This is the third and last post of the introductory Digital Backup series. If you’re reading this post, make sure you’ve read Digital Backup: No More Excuses, and Digital Backup: Space and Infrastructure.

Now that you’ve determined the size of the digital space you need, selected a digital backup tool, and your files are organized, you’re ready to setup your backup mechanism!

The backup mechanism for many digital platforms are roughly the same. You can elect to have all of your files synched to your digital backup platform, and anytime you access the file the synched version will update within seconds of any changes you make. Automated synching anytime there’s a file change is ideal as it will guarantee every file change is documented. Other backup platforms can offer incremental backups and it depends on your individual needs as far as how often that should happen. I recommend you backup actively used files regularly, and backup archived files monthly to quarterly.

In any backup platform you consider, please make sure they offer a way to view version history. Having access to previous file versions can be helpful from a business perspective, and life-saving when future digital files become corrupted or destroyed.

Last, if you’re serious about the integrity of your digital files I recommend you employ a fixity check. Fixity is the state of being unchanged or permanent, and this is how pristine you want your finished digital files to remain. Whenever a digital file is touched – whether intentional or not – it has the potential to change. For those on a serious-level for digital preservation, such as repositories with digital collections, please choose a tool that will help you regularly assess, check, and manage the fixity of your digital files. For an example of this, check out AVP’s free and open-source Fixity tool. For more on fixity, please see this PDF: How, What and When to check Fixity  from the NDSA Infrastructure Group report.

For more information, you can dive down the digital preservation rabbit hole with POWRR: Preserving (Digital) Objects With Restricted Resources. For those seeking extensive digital preservation suggestions view POWRR’s Tool Grid, or visit the abbreviated POWRR resource guide for personal use.

If you have any questions on how to get started, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me questions. I provide a free 30 minute consult call, or you’re welcome to email me: co[email protected].

Rachael Cristine

Image courtesy of Martin Frey, via Flickr’s Creative Commons (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tinfrey/31622323914/), and follows the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/. Image downloaded for use February 2018, and was not purposefully altered.

Digital Backup: Space and Infrastructure

Earlier this month, we explored digital backups and how to choose a tool that’s right for you in the post: Digital Backup: No More Excuses. The next two steps go hand in hand: 1. establish or fine-tuning your digital file structure; and 2. calculate how much space you need in a digital backup tool.

1. Establish a Digital File Structure: Determining how much space you need (and setting up the file synching function) will be so much easier when your digital files are organized. Are your digital files splashed across your desktop for easy access,? Or, are they meticulously filed in multiple layers of sub-file folders? Depending on your work, what files you create, what they’re for, and how often – will lend itself to different organizational schemes and is something to seriously consider. However, the best approach for the majority of digital file owners is to have a file folder system with limited use of sub-folders. Consistent naming of folder and files are important, as is the use of Month and Year. The image below is a general example of what I’m describing for file organization and folder naming.

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 3.10.17 PM

2. Calculate How Much Digital Space You Need: Now that you have your digital files in and easy-to-use organizational scheme, you can check how much space those files are taking. In this example, my main folder container of digital files is “Consulting”, and by right-clicking on that folder and selecting “Get Info” (PC instructions will vary), I see that the digital files take up 373.8MB of space. Next, consider how long you’ve been contributing digital files to that folder so that you can calculate your monthly rate of digital file space increase. For example, say I’ve spent 15 months creating 374MB of digital files: 374/15 = 24.93333. So, 25MB is my estimated monthly digital file creation size. Now, build in at least two years of digital file space on top of your existing digital files to give you time for digital file growth (and backup). For example, currently I have 374MB of digital files, and I want two years of extra space to create and backup more digital files. Take your estimated monthly file creation number, in this case 25MB, and multiple it by 24 months (2 years): 25MB x 24mo = 600MB. By using this equation, I know I need 374MB (current files) + 600MB (projected future digital file growth) = 974MB. I now know that I need a digital file backup system for at least 974MB of files to take me through the next two years of digital file creation and backup.


If your digital file space needs are fairly low, then you’re likely able to go with a free version of the digital backup tool you choose. If you’re a frequent digital file creator and/or create very large digital files (such as photographs and videos), then you will likely need to invest in a larger version of the digital backup tool.

If you have any questions on how to get started, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me questions. I provide a free 30 minute consult call, or you’re welcome to email me: [email protected].

Rachael Cristine

Image courtesy of Christiaan Colen, via Flickr’s Creative Commons (https://www.flickr.com/photos/christiaancolen/22482928181/), and follows the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/. Image downloaded for use October 2017, and was not purposefully altered.

Digital Backup: No More Excuses

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune discussed how the Obama Presidential Library would be used for forums, workshops, and programs. “Where’s the papers?” one reasonably asks? Well, the papers will be online, because everything (almost) is digital.

If you don’t have a digital backup plan in place for your business and personal papers (digital records) then you might be tempting the universe to break your computer, and I hope you don’t live in an area prone to natural disasters. If you’ve never implemented a digital backup plan for your digital records it can be overwhelming to vet an appropriate system, determine how much digital storage space you need, create a digital infrastructure for your digital file system, and set an appropriate backup mechanism. But don’t worry – I’m here to help. First, you need to choose a system, and I have two recommendations for you that can scale to your needs and are easy to implement: Google Drive and Dropbox. (No, I’ve not been paid to endorse them. And yes, I use them both for my business and personal records). Help on determining storage space needs, how to set up a digital infrastructure, and setting up a backup mechanism will be covered in later posts. But if you can’t wait, feel free to call or email me for help.

There are three attributes I consider “a must” when it comes to assessing a digital backup tool:

  1. Is there a free version with an option to scale up?
  2. Is there an option to automatically sync my digital records?
  3. Can I share my digital records with others?

1. Both Google Drive and Dropbox have free versions to get started with, and offer different scaling options you can grow into. Google Drive offers 15GB, with an option to buy more storage space. Dropbox will start with only 2GB, but offers more nuanced tool options (in addition to storage) for scaling up.

2. Google Drive and Dropbox both offer automatic synching and access to to your digital records across all of your devices (computer, phone, smart devices). If you’re active in creating digital records, and you could lose years of digital work and family mementos, then having an automatic synching tool is a necessity. Both tools also provide version recovery, and if you upgrade in Dropbox you have a longer window in which to use the version recovery tool. The ability to access these records on any device is a convenience, and one I heartily recommend if you’re on the go and rely on access to digital records while you’re frequently away from your computer.

3. While sharing may not be a top priority for your business or personal use, it is incredibly handy if you ever need to send a large file, collate multiple people’s input in one document, or want to share dozens of photo files from a great-Aunt’s photo collection with a large, extended family. Both Google Drive and Dropbox offer ways to share your files, and you can drill down to determine exactly what aspects of your work people can access and change.

If you’re a light, personal-use, digital record creator, then Google Drive is probably all you need. If you’re a heavy digital record creator, and like or need a nuanced approach to control tools regarding your files on a granular level, then I recommend investing in a higher-level Dropbox account – of which there are several levels.

If you have any questions on how to get started, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me questions. I provide a free 30 minute consult call, or you’re welcome to email me: [email protected].

Rachael Cristine

Image courtesy of Andrew Parnell, via Flickr’s Creative Commons (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewparnell/2742419882/), and follows the Creative Commons Attribution License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/. Image downloaded for use October 2017, and was not purposefully altered.