Most of my day is spent working and interacting online. I create a lot of data in the form of documents, social networking messages, blog posts and transaction data. I recently moved all of my paper files online (I’ll post on how I went paperless in a future post) so that added to the amount of digital data I have.
I like to keep organized so that I can get to the data I need quickly, so I decided to review where all my data goes and figure out a personal data storage strategy. I wouldn’t say that my data strategy was a focused effort, but more of a ‘using what’s available’ scheme. Recently while cleaning up my family and business data I’ve tried to formalize how I use storage providers to keep a few goals in mind:
Data is available when while traveling. Think web accessible files in Dropbox.
Data is available on multiple devices. iMac, iPad, iPhone, etc.
Data is easily shared. Dropbox file URL’s, Google Docs sharing.
Easily export data if I want to move providers. Instagram export, Twitter archive.
Inexpensive. Use free plan available.
I’ve seen a posts on how people organize their task lists, but I hadn’t seen how people organize their data. My data is organized in tiers related to time: Things accessed daily, things accessed monthly, things accessed yearly.
Accessed Daily: Google Drive & iCloud
Google Drive is my first go-to for data. I have a set of docs and spreadsheets that I access daily. I keep my family and business budgets in a spreadsheet. I keep blog post drafts in separate documents. I also have a “Monthly Plan of Action” where I keep things I want to get completed that month. The only documents in Google Drive were authored there.
I include iCloud not because I use it to store data, but because it is the data sync for all of the Apple apps I use: Contacts, Calendar, Messages and Reminders. I will use it for storing a Keynote address since I author them on my iMac and share them from my wife’s laptop.
Accessed Monthly: Dropbox
When Drew Houston described the idea behind Dropbox and that he wanted it to be similar to a UNIX network file system where all of your documents and environment is available to you on whatever computer you login to I was hooked. Then I saw all the fantastic features included.
My use case for Dropbox has turned into my medium-long term storage for documents and project based files. On the business side I’ll store PDF’s, Photoshop documents, image files, database backups and some code. On the personal side I keep all of my monthly bill PDF’s and camera pics. Any physical mail I get (invoices, letters, checks) gets scanned with Doxie, put into a Dropbox folder then shredded. I used to have the Pro plan that included 100GB of storage, but I never used over 12GB of that. I recently reorganized my Dropbox and reduced down to below the free plan threshold of 4GB. Where did that other data go? I’ll tell you in the next section…
Accessed Yearly: Amazon S3
When I stopped doing client work I had gigabytes of project data in Dropbox that I didn’t need. I didn’t want to delete the files, but still wanted access to them. I created an Amazon S3 account and setup two buckets that I uploaded all of the old project data up to. The storage is dirt cheap so it makes sense to keep this info here.
I also recently setup InfiniteWP to manage my WordPress installs and use one of the add-ons to do auto backups of all my WordPress sites and ship the backups up to S3. Super quick and easy.
How about you? Do you have a strategy for keeping your data accessible and safe?