The office wall in one of my former jobs had a cartoon with two drunks slumped in an alleyway bemoaning their fate. One was saying to the other, “It all started to go wrong when I realised the backups hadn’t been working…” He at least had been trying to use backups.
Sometimes people fear trusting data to computers, worried that a wrong key press may result in valuable information being lost. That is to get things wrong: data is safer on computers because it is much easier to do regular backups. Data stored any other way is difficult to backup; reams of photocopies are no match for the simplicity of a computer backup. If you want your data to be safe, put it on a computer and then do regular, proper backups.
However, even the best of computer systems can go wrong. Trusting your data to the likes of Google or Flickr is a moderately safe bet as both have pretty good records at preserving people’s data. Yet data disasters can and do strike highly reputable web services and when the risks of hacking and human error are thrown in, not to mention the cost of losing data for a critical few days whilst someone else sorts out restoring it, it makes sense to backup your data wherever it is.
For many campaigners that includes backing up emails from Gmail and photos from Flickr. There are two excellent free tools to do just this, which with no cost and not much complexity mean they are an easy and convenient way of being a sensible campaigner. That is, a campaigner with backups.
- For Flickr: Bulkr – free edition
- For Gmail (and other email services): MailStore Home – free edition
There’s more about the importance of backups and how to have a sensible system in Chapter 41 of 101 Ways To Win An Election. As that chapter starts: “You can’t stop things going wrong; you can stop them turning into disasters.”
Got any other backup tools to recommend? Post away in the comments…