How To Backup Your Data

backup your data

One day you’re happily blogging away, and the next, your hosting provider suddenly shuts down your site. It’s imperative to prepare for any number of disasters such as this by proactively backing up your data. If you cherish the thousands of tweets you posted, the Facebook memories you’ve created, pictures you’ve taken, or even your tax returns from the last 6 years, don’t take any chances.

Everyone thinks it can’t happen to them until it does. You don’t have to violate your service provider’s ToS to be removed from the platform. You can easily be a target for a malicious virus or ransomware where your hard drive becomes encrypted by a third party, and they threaten to delete its contents unless you pay them in bitcoins. With all of the major password leaks online, and an alarming amount of people using easily guessed passwords like “password” or “Star Wars”, your social media data is also at risk.

Of course it would solve most of our problems if we obeyed websites’ ToS, avoided risky sites, created randomly generated 16 digit passwords, and followed all the other ways to protect your sensitive data (which I outlined in this nifty series). Alas, there’s only so many hours in the day and it’s impossible to predict every catastrophe that comes our way. If all else goes wrong, it’s best to at least have an emergency backup so you’re not starting from scratch. Here’s a quick guide for downloading all of your data from major social media sites and Google, and a few ways to routinely back it up.

Social Media Download

Keep in mind, that while these directions and links are taken directly from social media sites, they quite often like to change the exact steps and even the links. If at some point in the future these directions are no longer relevant, try searching on Google with the phrase “how to download data from [site].”

Facebook

  1. Click [down arrow] at the top right of any Facebook page and select Settings
  2. Click Download a copy of your Facebook data below your General Account Settings
  3. Click Start My Archive

Twitter

  1. Go to your account settings by clicking on the profile icon at the top right of the page and selecting Settings from the drop-down menu.
  2. Click Request your archive.
  3. When your download is ready, we’ll send an email with a download link to the confirmed email address associated with your Twitter account.
  4. Once you receive the email, click the Go now button to log in to your Twitter account and download a .zip file of your Twitter archive.

Google Takeout

  1. Visit the Download your data page. You might have to sign in to your Google Account.
  2. Choose which Google products to include in your download. To see more details and options for a product, select the Down arrow.
  3. Select Next.
  4. Choose your archive’s “File type.”

Backup

The quantity of data you want to backup will ultimately determine your strategy, but here are a few easy ways to start:

  1. Purchase an external hard drive and use file synchronization software to consistently backup the data from your computer.
  2. Subscribe to an online data backup service like BackBlaze, CrashPlan, or my favorite, but more expensive, DropBox.
  3. If you run a blog or other small site that you’d like to forever backup online and preserve its content, use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

It’s important to have both some sort of local and cloud based backup in case your external hard drive is destroyed or you’re unable to access your cloud backup. Most of all, remember to schedule regular backups! It won’t help if you forget to download your data for two years.

Do you have any horror stories about losing all of your data? What about times and ways your backups saved your content? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

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