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The 10 best ways to back up your design work

Guard against lost work and back up your files. You know it makes sense: here are the best ways to go about it...

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The nightmare scenario: working away, getting into a design then... 'Sorry Photoshop has quit unexpectedly' - and there goes three hours' work. Gahhhh!!!

We all know we should save regularly when working but it is even more important that we back up our work. It's one thing to lose three hours but another to lose all the projects you have been working on for a client!

Here we'll take look at 10 great tools that will help you back up your work regularly. Don't delay; back up today!

01. Toughdrive

Toughdrive file back-up
The rubber coating helps protect the drive

Toughdrive offers a robust solution that's great if you move around a lot on trains or bicycles. It promises to survive a two metre drop, and the integrated USB cable is a great piece of design both in terms of the life of the connector in the back of the unit and the fact you'll never forget your lead.

02. My Passport

My Passport file storage
Small in size but not capacity

Although slightly more delicate, the Western Digital My Passport is more affordable than the Toughdrive. The fact you can now get 2TB capacity hard drives like this for less than £110 shows how far we have come to in terms of the cost of storage.

03. Iomega Home Media Network HDD

Iomega NAS HDD
Create your own personal Cloud server

A reliable home network storage system that includes the ability to act as a personal cloud server. You can share your files between all your computers. It’s quite fast, and the simple set-up is ideal if you’ve never used a network drive before.

04. Drobo

Drobo NAS
Many drives make light work… and save your data

A cost effective NAS solution, the Drobo is a step up in terms of back ups. It isn't as fast as a top end unit like a Lacie Big One but this is outweighed by its cost. It will do a great job of serving files and protecting your back up using RAID. A redundant array of independent disks, or RAID, is a way of storing the same data in different places on multiple drives.

05. Synology DS213 Air

Synology NAS
The cream of the crop for personal NAS storage

This lovely looking drive is specifically designed for small office and home users who need the convenient solution of wireless sharing capability with full-featured network attached storage. At around £250 plus the cost of the drives it isn't cheap, but it will provide a long-term back-up facility.

06. Dropbox

Dropbox
The first truly popular cloud storage service

Dropbox is an online data back-up service that lets you store up to 100GB. It’s also a good way to sync your files across your various work and home computers and mobile devices. Your data is also backed up on Dropbox's secure servers.

07. Google Drive

Google Drive
Google Drive was formerly known as Google Docs

Cloud systems all act in a similar way; Google's version of Dropbox is Drive. An update in May 2013 means you get a massive 15GB of storage for free and then when you reach your limit, you can upgrade starting at $4.99 per month for 100GB. There was a lot of commotion about Drive's T&Cs when it first came out but this seems to have subsided.

08. iCloud

Apple was late to the cloud storage party but integrates things superbly

Apple offer iCloud now with all their devices. It is Mac-only but does offer a total solution in terms of synchronising and backing up your data on your iPhone/iPad and Mac computer. The items you buy, such as books and apps, do not affect the 5GB of free space, it is there for your mail, and documents, which is good. iCloud has been in the news recently regarding Apple reserving the right to delete content they don't agree with from your account.

09. Chronosync (Mac)

Chronosync
Mac owners have an alternative to Time Machine in the form of Chronosync

Although this is a paid-for piece of software, it offers a really easy way to synchronise or back up to your drive of choice. You can set up a regular backup that happens at a certain time, which allows you to set it to do its thing whilst you sleep each night.

10. SyncToy (PC)

SyncToy
Microsoft's freeware .NET synchronisation program

SyncToy is a freeware .NET program by Microsoft that allows easy synchronisation of your files to your backup device of choice. It's very similar to Chronosync: just choose your left and right targets and decide what method of backup you want.

And finally...

Whichever back-up solution you choose, make sure you use it. A client phoned me in a panic the other day; they had done a system restore on a PC and their files had disappeared.

I asked if it was backed up, they said yes... but only up to August. Needless to say they will be much more attentive to their back-up procedures in future! The key is to get into a regular routine, do this and you won't have to worry about data loss again.

Words: Sush Kelly

Sush Kelly is a senior interactive designer at Imaginate Creative Ltd, a creative agency in Leamington Spa, UK. He also blogs at www.sushkelly.co.uk

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