I Lost All My Designs, Can You Help?
Uh, in a word, no.
Unless of course you purchased them from my online shop and then I can happily tell you to log into your account and redownload them. Many sites allow you do this, some do not. And of course, you'll need to remember where all you got them. You do remember that, right?
Of course, this presumes that the site itself doesn't experience any catastrophes. Also,at some point it may become necessary to purge old order history, especially all those freebie orders cluttering up the system.
I do feel your pain though!
Obviously, the best solution is to back up your designs. There are several options for this:
- Auto backups to an external hard drive. Mac users can do this with Time Machine. There are also third party programs available for both Mac and Windows users.
- Auto backups with a remote service such as Carbonite, which is very popular.
- Manual backups to a cloud-based file sharing account like DropBox.
- Periodic backups to external media like a stick, CD, or DVD.
The best solution is a combination.
Auto Backup to an External Hard Drive
This is a fairly easy and fast solution. Depending on how you have it set up, you can also access and recover files over a long period of time—even before you accidentally wiped out part of document and then saved it! Also, you are likely to have a reasonably current backup should things suddenly go south on your main hard drive.
One drawback is that you will likely run out of disc storage at some point. But if you have a small number of files and and a large backup drive, you'll be able to have archive versions for quite a ways back so that when your computer prompts you that it's running out of space, you can just start overwriting the oldest file dates.
The biggest drawback is that is local. If the worst happens—your place is burgled, burned, flooded or swept off to Oz in a tornado, your backup is likely to go too!
Auto Backups for a Remote Service
These are generally some cloud-based service. Newer computers may offer such a service providing a small amount of offline backup or storage accessed via the internet. You'll likely need to purchase a larger amount of storage to handle everything unless you only have a very small amount of data.
The major drawback with services requiring an internet connection is speed. A few years ago, I tried Carbonite for a year. Even after a year and fast internet connection, my primary hard drive had not completed 1 full backup! Granted, Carbonite can only backup is your computer is on—but I left mine on nearly 24/7 to do the backups. If it takes that long to backup, how long would it take to recover?
Manual Backups to Cloud-Based File Sharing Account
I often transfer files to DropBox for sharing with other computers or other people. DropBox, which is free, is another cloud-based service. A folder is created on your computer and when files are moved or copied there, they are copied to your remote folder. You can login and access this folder from any of your computers—even from an iPhone or iPad. You can also create folders that can be shared with others.
The free version provides a reasonable amount of storage for any type of file. The downside is that it's not automatic. I think of it as temporary storage for files at best. It's especially good if you travel and do presentations. Store all your necessary files in DropBox before you leave, if the worst comes to pass, you can always access the files from another computer.
Periodic Backup to Stick, CD, or DVD
Backups to a transportable external media have the advantage of being stored off-site. (You can also use a hard drive for this.)
If all your files fit on one device, then your files are easily accessible once you attach or insert the media. If you need many CDs or DVDs to backup, then it becomes more cumbersome to both backup and restore.
Of course, the downside to a R/W CD or DVD is that once you've written your files to it, you can't add any more. And it won't take too long before that backup is not current—possibly within minutes of the back-up completing. A USB jump drive or stick can be useful for keeping a current back-up of all files in the interim.
Why not use it for permanent storage? Well, they can possibly become damaged and they can also be easily erased or overwritten–thus defeating their purpose.
In the "old days" of Cactus Punch, we used to back up to tape. We'd rotate the several tapes so that while one was being backed up to automatically by the system, the remainder were safely stored away from the premises.
Periodically, one master would stay as a permanent record and a new tape would be added in. Businesses might decide to do this on an annual basis or shorter periods, such as months or weeks depending on the data being backed up.
What's the Best Solution?
That depends. Do you share your computer with other members of your household? Do you have a fast internet connection or an old slow dial up? How many files do you have to backup? Are they large files (think of all those photos!) or just small ones (embroidery designs)? How vital is your data? How often does it change?
A combination approach is good way to go and how you balance it out will depend on your needs and the answers to those previous questions. The only thing that is certain is that you do need to backup—and sooner rather than later!
To learn more about on-line backup services or recommendations for automatic backup software, simply enter those terms into Google or your other favorite search engine. You can be searching while your computer backs up your most important files to a CD or DVD or even a Blu-Ray disc.
Look especially for third party reviews and pay attention to the file dates on those reviews. Products and services are constantly being updated, replaced, or obsoleted. Make sure the product or service will work with your computer and OS. Look for trial periods to try out online services.
Computer crashes are pretty much a given. Are you prepared?
About the Author
Lindee Goodall is a veteran master digitizer who's won awards for her beautiful designs, been a guest on numerous PBS sewing shows, written articles for a variety of home and industry related magazines, and is a Craftsy instructor.
Lindee G Embroidery is her second company, following Cactus Punch, which was founded in 1994.