Does your online backup and cloud storage regime stand up to the test? Unfortunately, I recently got the chance to find out. I’d been dicing with computer death for a while – my Dell PC had a malfunctioning power button and I knew that if I ever turned it off, that might be the end – so I didn’t.

Instead, I used the hibernation feature to make sure it could keep running. But I didn’t count on the storm that took the power out for four hours, turning my computer off permanently. Not a good position to be in when you’re a professional writer with several looming deadlines.

So I took a deep breath, sent my PC to the doctor, and hooked up my underpowered netbook to what remained of my computer system – my screen, keyboard and mouse. Then I tried to figure out how I would make that setup work for a week while I waited for the return of my rehabbed computer.

Firing Up SugarSync on the Web

That week’s work list included several half finished blog posts, a couple of articles, a press release and a few more items, so the first thing I did was login to the SugarSync web interface and download the latest versions of those files. As I mentioned in 7 Reasons Why I Switched to SugarSync, the automatic backup feature meant that everything I’d been working on on my old computer had been saved. Download was seamless and I soon had all the documents I needed to work on.

Part of my work is research, and to do that, I used another form of online backup – Chrome Sync. Because I set it up to sync everything on my original computer, when I logged into my Google account on the netbook, I had access to my recently visited pages where I’d been doing article and post research. If you’re a Chrome user, it’s well worth enabling this feature.

I had one more issue to solve – how to make sure I would have access to any work completed on the netbook when I got my PC back. While my desktop PC backs up automatically, I didn’t have SugarSync installed on the netbook and it was too underpowered to even consider it.

One option was to work on documents on the computer and then upload them manually to the SugarSync website. While it’s something I’ve done in the past for single documents in special situations, I didn’t want to forget anything, so I decided not to to that.

Cloud Storage with Google Drive

Instead, I turned to another of my favorite cloud storage solutions, Google Drive, to make sure that I had copies of all my work. I opened a single file (aptly named “work in progress”) and did all my typing there.

The good thing about that is that as long as my Internet connection held up, all work as automatically saved. And since I tagged that file for offline use, I also have access to it on my mobile device.

There was a little extra work involved in creating and downloading new files when I was ready to submit client work, but overall the system worked. And since all submitted work was stored in Gmail, when I finally got my computer back I was able to download the files, put them in the right folders and let SugarSync do its thing.

Saved Again!

I only had one bad moment after I got my PC back, when I thought I’d lost a file I’d been editing in Windows Live Writer. The version on my PC had the title and nothing else – the file was completely empty.

Save Files to Your Favorite Cloud Apps

Luckily, SugarSync saved my bacon yet again. Since it keeps up to five document revisions in addition to the current one, I was able to find a previous version in my SugarSync web drive and download that with everything intact – phew!

Conclusion

So what did I learn from this experience? Three things that you never know when your computer will stop working, so backup isn’t optional; it’s essential. That choosing an online backup provider that has a navigable web interface and stores document revisions is a great idea.

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That, for now at least, SugarSync is the right backup choice for me. Have you ever had to put your online backup regime to the test? How did it work out?

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