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March 28, 2012 / paulio10

Backing Up Your Important Data

What is your plan for backing up the most important computer data in your life?

To answer that, you have to be able to first answer:  What is the most important data in your life that could be lost?

For me, the answer is:
1. Gmail Contacts (the most important people in my life – their emails and phone numbers and addresses)

2. Delicious Bookmarks (my most important bookmarked web pages, across all browsers)

3. Dropbox (I have a lot of files I don’t want to lose in there, some of which I share with other people)

4. Everything on my main computer at home, which has the share drive with all our family pictures on it and all my financial records and other important stuff.

5. Gmail Filters

6. Gmail Messages, Folders

7. Nozbe (project management software)

Backing Things up

Here are the procedures I follow for backing these things up. Remember, a Backup is simply a copy you make to another location, so that if the original location is completely destroyed somehow, you have “your copy” that you can refer to – or put back in place, when the main area is repaired.  When everyone else is yelling and freaking out and blogging and twittering and law-suits are flying, you’re calmly waiting for everything to settle down so you can put your files back in place and resume your work as normal.  [NEXT LEVEL: You’re surfing on top of the waves] [PRINCIPLE: shit breaks in the Physical world, get used to it]

1. Backing up Google Contacts

login to Gmail, click Contacts

“More Actions” -> “Export…”

All Contacts.  Google CSV format.

Save As… to your desktop.

drag the file to your backups folder. It may be in c:\backups if you want, or somewhere else (on Windows)

2. Backup Delicious Bookmarks

browse to

login to your account

click “Settings” (upper right corner)

click “Export/Backup Bookmarks”

include “my tags” and “notes”

click EXPORT button

Save As… to your desktop

drag that file to your backups area.

3. Backup Dropbox

right-mouse-button drag your Dropbox folder to your backups area

when the menu appears, choose “Copy”.

4. Everything on my main computer

I paid for Carbonite automated backup.

As I change files, add, delete, modify things, Carbonite works in the background to make sure there’s a copy of everything from my computer onto their remote servers.  Very easy to see when each thing was backed up, what has not yet been backed up, restore lost files, etc.  Definitely worth it if you have a Windows PC.

I also occasionally drag my most important folders from my PC onto an external hard drive, I have a 1.5TB drive on my main PC for this purpose.  I do that every couple months, just to make sure I have my own copy of all my own files, separate from the computer that could die and take them all with it.

5. Gmail Filters

login to Gmail

click the Gear icon -> Mail Settings -> Filters

scroll to bottom

click “ALL”

click “Export”

Save As… (to your desktop)

drag file to your backups area

6. Gmail messages, folders

If you’ve never done this before, download and install Mozilla Thunderbird

If you’ve never done this before, set it up to POP or IMAP  to remotely fetch your email files

Run Thunderbird, so it remotely fetches your email

can take a long time, if you have a lot of email

7. Nozbe (project management software)

go to the main web site (

log in

click the Gear icon (upper right)

Backup your data

Backup your data

save to desktop

drag the file nozbe_export* to your backups area

Scheduled Timing of Backups

I do this copying of files once a month or so.  You may choose to do it sooner, or later than that.

I definitely recommend making sure YOU have a copy of your important stuff, so even if the world around you crumbles, you can get your own stuff back if you need to.

There are ways of backing up all your stuff on Facebook, but I don’t bother to do that;  I consider facebook and twitter to be transient, not permanent.  Twitter is definitely transient – go back and see if you can find your old tweets from 1 year ago!  They’re gone already.  I hope you didn’t say anything important.


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