Personal data management is not that hard. It’s just a matter of developing a good practice of data filing. Think of your data storage like file cabinets, you wouldn’t keep your bills scattered across two or more filing cabinets, unless you have enough bills to warrant more than one drawer of a filing cabinet, that is.
It’s much easier to find things if you put like items together. I have two filing cabinets; one drawer in one filing cabinet is for the paper bills that I get. The other drawer and the two in the other cabinet are for my family history. I arrange my digital data in a similar fashion. I put my fiction on a single, portable, hard drive that I can connect to either of my two computers. At least, that’s where I put the work I’m working on. I archive the finished pieces to a shared storage device. It makes it easier to find them. I have specific folders for each item and when I archive the item, I move the entire folder. I’ve learned this system the hard way. I know I have written pieces that I have lost in computer moves because I didn’t keep everything together. Now I keep everything together, whether I am working on them or archiving them. It’s a neater system and it works well. Having the data on the portable drive means that I can access it from either computer or even back it up with either computer, making it easy to find and access.
Backing up your data regularly is just plain common sense. I do a full back up once a week and incremental backups daily. If your data is important to you, it’s important enough to secure its safety. You don’t have to buy space on an external server, which is a good method – don’t get me wrong, I use it for the weekly full backup. Essentially, all you really need is a large capacity, external hard drive. I’m not certain about Mac operating systems, but Windows includes a backup feature that does the job. It backs up my data incrementally, meaning that it only backs up things flagged as modified since the last backup. Computers do that automatically, check the details of a particular folder and you will see what I mean. I do my incremental backups to a local external hard drive and the full backup to an internet based backup. The backups are automatic, which means they run per a schedule – usually overnight – so that they are always current. After all, I don’t want to lose any of my data. It’s important to test your backups periodically to ensure that the data backed up correctly. You wouldn’t want to find out your data backup was corrupt when you really need to restore it.
Data management is not hard. Simply put, it consists of three parts, ensuring easy access, integrity, and safety. So remember, put your files in place with like items, back it up frequently and test your backups so that you know the data is safe. It’s the best policy there is for personal data management.