Data Storage Stragegy

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?

Photo Credit: basheertome via Compfight cc

Posted by Daniel Espinoza

I'm a digital tentmaker, web developer, a native Texan, avid reader, and a wanna be polyglot. Follow Daniel on Twitter @d_espi.

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