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Blog Exercises: Backups and Alternatives

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.I didn’t expect to return home after a meeting this morning to find I have no telephone or Internet access on this bright sunshine, calm weather May day. I’ve got classes to prep for, sites to review for students and clients, article deadlines, these blog exercises to publish and keep to my year long commitment, and clients needing work done. I have no Internet nor land line. What to do?

I do have my smart phone. My tablet is WIFI, so it is out, as is the laptop. I’m limited to my phone or I can pack things up and go down to the local hotel and cafe with free high-speed wireless and work from there. I give the phone a try, then give up as the access is so slow and just work without wires. Then I find out that the whole area is down and isn’t likely to be back on until 3AM, or possibly later. Argh.

Several programs I now rely upon won’t work unless I’m connected to the web. Those are out. It’s back to traditional software to keep working, which brings me to today’s blog exercise.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.What are your backup plans and alternative options for keeping your blog going when the going gets tough?

Do you have alternatives when the power goes out?

I do most of my web writing in the powerful text editor NoteTab Pro and Scrivener, an amazing editor program for writers and novelists. Both are software and not reliant upon the web to function.

I use Instant WordPress to install a virtual server for WordPress Theme development and testing on my Windows computer, allowing me WordPress access for testing, development, and screenshots for my class material and articles when web access is lacking. There are a variety of ways to install your own virtual, desktop server with WordPress to help you keep going, though you need to remember these sites are not live on the web and you can’t publish from them. You may import and export, but they aren’t your live WordPress site.

Server, portable drives, and other backup equipment in the Lorelle jungle.Scrivener allows me to download and store web pages for research, and there is always the traditional methods of saving web pages, but that’s only if I was thinking ahead. If I need to search for answers, other than my phone and the iffy 3G cell connection in my home office, I have to rely upon what I have available.

What about backups? I backup all my articles and projects to multiple portable hard drives and Google Drive. This allows me to pick up and leave with little notice, taking my files with me easily. Unfortunately, without access to the Internet, the files on Google Drive or other cloud storage locations don’t help me. I need to work on local copies.

While I have a variety of ways to sync my files, I usually have to remember to do so manually. Not all software and systems successfully sync, though they do backup. Backups usually require the same software to access the compressed backup files and I need my raw files without going through a restore process.

The last backup I always have are articles ready to go in draft form on my site. This way I can release one quickly if needed when I get back online. The ones that are completely ready to release I can post from my phone. Writing and editing them on my phone is tricky, so I save these for emergencies. I had some in the queue but chose to write this one as the power came back on many hours earlier than expected. YEAH!

It’s a painful system I need to update and make more efficient myself, which is why I want your help to help all of us learn more about how to backup, sync, and use more efficient tools to ensure we can keep on blogging even when the lights go out, so to speak.

Your blog exercise is to go through your own list to prepare for when you lose connection to the web and need to keep working.

  1. Identify the programs you need to have in order to keep working. Make sure you have backups of the programs so they can be reinstalled quickly.
  2. Identify how you store, backup, and sync your documents, multimedia, and content. Ensure you have local as well as cloud storage options.
  3. Consider alternative Internet access points, local and at further distances if the blackout is community-wide.
  4. Inventory the equipment you need for backups and alternative methods for accessing the web. Make sure you have backup batteries and ways of charging these devices, too.
  5. Write 3-5 blog posts and save them as drafts, ready to release if you find yourself in this situation. Install the mobile version of WordPress on your smart phone to ensure you have quick access to your site.

Make a plan for the “just in case” moments in your blogging life. We all have them. Some we can prepare for, like weather we know is coming. Others hit us out of the blue. Make sure you are ready no matter the reason.

Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

13 Comments

  1. Posted May 20, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Know the feeling Lorrelle. It’s amazing how much of our lives revolve around the internet or our mobile phones. You definately feel lost when one or the other is out of action.

    Great post to remind us to have ‘Plan B’ set-up before it’s needed. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Posted May 21, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Not just a Plan B but a Plan C and D. When I found out this morning that highway construction code the trunk line into the community – well, I’d have had to travel some distance to find a wifi connection if my deadlines were that serious. All good practice. :D

  2. Posted May 21, 2013 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about your Internet woes. I’ve been fortunate to live in an area that has only one outage of more than fifteen minutes in the last ten years. Not that I shouldn’t plan for the eventuality.

    I’m intrigued by your use of Scrivener for blogging. I love the product but haven’t been able to put together an approach and workflow that I find comfortable. I’m currently using a single Scrivener project for work in process, with each draft post as a separate ‘chapter’. Have you considered doing an article on your process with Scrivener?

    I’m loving your Blog Exercise series!

    • Posted May 21, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Thank you. Seems that bridge construction to replace an overpass on the highway cut the main trunk line to the whole community. I’d have to say that is a rare situation, though in the winter we will have frequent power outages. I prepare for those, but not for clear weather outages. Always a good reminder to play it safe. Who knows then the next neutron bomb might explode over our heads from the next alien attack. Must be ready. (Clearly spent too much time rewatching Doctor Who episodes recently in prep for the 50th anniversary.)

      Scrivener is amazing. I’ll be writing more about it in these blog exercises. The key is to work in one project with each post as a “chapter,” but go further. Break things up by folders, grouping like topics together. For these blog exercises, I have folders by the month then divided up by week to help me stick to five posts per week. Each “chapter” is a post title. I have a section called Drafts for all the work in process and I move them to their assigned weeks as I go, changing the status and labels (right click on the “name” or use the Inspector sidebar > General Meta-Data) to indicate which are still in draft mode, done and ready for publishing, and published. This helps me keep track of things. I’ll have more on this later, no worries!

      Thanks!

    • Posted May 22, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

      Thanks Lorelle. I look forward to more information on your use of Scrivener. How do you move from Scrivener to the blog? Simple cut and paste or something more elaborate?

    • Posted May 22, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I write in HTML in Scrivener and my text editor, so that makes the process easier. If you have no links or HTML, just words, copy and paste using the PASTE FROM WORD button on the second row of the toolbar in the Visual Editor or paste it into the Text editor directly. You need to avoid all those horrible codes that come in that you don’t want nor need. So avoid formatting fonts and such. Just words.

      I’ll be adding the Scrivener article in June. Stay tuned. :D

  3. Posted May 21, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Interesting and useful post…thanks for sharing.
    I tend not to use cloud-based storage because as you said, it can let you down at the worst times.
    That said, I am intrigued by MSN’s SkyDrive and think it would be a useful sharing tool.
    After reading your post, I’m now looking into Instant WordPress as I find working with the on-line WordPress to be a very slow process.
    I use a 2Terabyte hard drive to back up all my work – but I don’t keep it on there exclusively. Having lost one hard drive (failed…not mislaid)in the past, and numerous memory sticks (mislaid…not failed)I don’t rely on any one method for safekeeping.
    And as I’m away from home a lot of the week, I don’t take internet access for granted as I have to use a combination of available wi-fi, smartphone and dongle to keep in touch with everyone.
    I didn’t know that Scrivener was useful in storing web pages…hmmm.

    • Posted May 21, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Just because some cloud storage product has a good advertising campaign, don’t believe it. SkyDrive is the same as Google Drive, Dropbox, and other cloud storage options. They vary slightly but basically do the same things. I use Google Drive with my clients and business partners as most of them have Gmail Accounts. It comes free with a Gmail/Google Account. Nothing special to install or mess with, and I like keeping things together and simple.

      Instant WordPress is for Windows only. The article I referenced on portable and virtual server options cover other installs and operating systems.

      Scrivener is amazing for organizing content. I wish it was a more truly a text editor but I know how to tweak it, which is a sign of how powerful a program it is for a variety of projects.

      Glad to know I”m not the only one whose lost drives and learned to leave without a constant connection to the web. Good for you. :D

    • Posted May 21, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I was only going to use SkyDrive to hold (copies of) larger files so that my USB dongle doesn’t use up its limited allowance – files that I am constantly moving around and sending out like freebies of my book, the cover art etc.

      I have just downloaded a trial copy of Scrivener and am ploughing / plowing through the tutorial before uploading my first project, a novella. I thought I’d try it on something smaller first. :)

    • Posted May 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Excellent on trying Scrivener. Watch their intro videos. They are incredibly helpful – and another example of what can be done with Scrivener. Good idea to start small.

      I use Google Drive to hold my larger files, along with a mix of huge portable drives (When I was having a bad day, my husband brought me a terabyte portable drive to cheer me up. He knows I appreciate that more than flowers!) and thumb drives. The WD Passport portable drives are cheap and available at Costco and Best Buy, as well as elsewhere, for very little per gig. They are the size of a small paperback book and I can throw them in my purse or briefcase and go quickly. Love them. I sync these up with Google Drive.

      So far, research has shown that Google Drive, Dropbox, and Amazon are excellent, though SkyDrive makes a good showing depending upon the criteria. I don’t have any clients or business partners using SkyDrive, so we work on what they have easy access to on their systems.

      Thanks!

  4. easyP
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle
    Agree with you about having a local install.
    Instant WordPress looks fabulous but I’ve been using XAMPP for a few years now and I’ve got used to it.

    Noticed you said…
    “…though you need to remember these sites are live on the web and you can’t publish from them.”

    Do you mean “… are not live on the web…”

    • Posted May 21, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the correction. Was a late night. :D

      WAMP, XAMPP, MAMP, all are good. I use Instant WordPress with my students and novice clients because it is so easy to install. Simple is always good.

      Thanks!

  5. databackupguru
    Posted August 27, 2014 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    I seldom find people who actively backup there data like you. Same as you, I started using Google Drive as a free cloud backup tool, but the free space was easily filled up with my large sized RAW photos. Then, I started registering multiple Google Drive accounts. Then, I found a tool called Multcloud (http://www.multcloud.com) that can combine multiple free cloud storage accounts as one. Such as useful tool. Then, I found a free cloud backup software called Cloudbacko (http://free.cloudbacko.com) that, like Multcloud, can combine multiple free cloud storage accounts as one which let me have unlimited cloud space for backup. But it added a cool encryption feature which can encryption all the filenames and contents before uploading to the cloud, so that all my backup contents are encrypted from tip to toe. Now, no more hassle on my data anymore.


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Calendar to keep me on schedule for upcoming posts, but I do something more to protect me when emergencies happen and I need a backup plan to publish on my site in a timely […]

  2. […] Blog Exercises: Backups and Alternatives […]

  3. […] Blog Exercises: Backups and Alternatives […]

  4. […] about preparing you site for these emergency situations such as creating emergency drafts and using backups and alternatives, but these won’t hold up in desperate times where the blogger’s attention is completely […]

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