Backing-Up and Managing Your Creative Agency Digital Assets

Whether you are a large or a small advertising, branding, interactive or design agency, the need for backups of your digital assets is constant. If you are an owner of an agency, it probably keeps you awake at least on some nights, and if not, it should (unless you already have a great trusted and trialed system in place).

Why is it important to backup your digital assets? Think about all the work you do for your clients, the information that flows through the office, project management documents, and product specifications that get written and adjusted on a daily basis. Ask yourself what would happen if you walk into your office one morning finding out that some “dude” broke into your office and happened to take your file server and a few of your precious Mac Pros? The hardware is most likely insured, and can easily be replaced, but what about the hours, days or even years of work that are on those computers? If you do not have proper offsite backups for your information, it could cause you to go out of business.

How to Minimize Risk

Using an agency management system such as Function Point to store your files and manage your work means that backups are done automatically. This is a worry free way to manage your digital assets and ensure that sensitive business data is backed up and always available for you.

What About Non-Job Related Data or Large Digital Assets?

Backup your data at least once a day, and export it to a remote location. That remote location should probably be in a different geographical area than where the original data is located.

Third-party Solutions for Offsite Backup to Your Data

DropBox – One of the best solutions out there, based on Amazon Storage (trust me, I have tried quite a few.)

JungleDisk – A good alternative that uses Rackspace / Amazon Storage.

Sugar Sync – Similar to the two above.

Amazon S3 – most providers use Amazon Storage in their back end to store your data. This is usually the cheapest solution.

What is wrong with using those services? Nothing, as long as you encrypt your data before sending it to them. Most of these services are bound by law to provide your personal information if asked through a court order.

How to Encrypt Your Data

Here too there are multiple options, and I will not get into technical details as to how to use them, but I will name a few that I found useful over the years:

Super Flexible File Synchronizer (cheesy name I know) – A very flexible (as the name states) backup manager (commercial product). It can upload directly to remote locations over FTP / SFTP / Amazon S3 / WebDav / Google Docs. It allows you to specify file encryption to the destination, and automatic decryption when restoring. Compatible with Linux (free on that platform), Windows, and Mac OS X.

TrueCrypt – A free tool that allows you to create an encrypted container. When using the data, it shows as a drive on your OS, and when encrypted it is a simple encrypted file that you can store anywhere. It also allows for encryption of a whole drive or partition. The product is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

Duplicity – A free A Linux based command line tool that builds an encrypted file system, allows for incremental backups and time-based recovery to Amazon Storage and other file systems.

Final Words of Wisdom

Whether it is your agency data or your personal files, it is always a good idea to have a remote backup system in place. It does not matter what products you choose to utilize as long as you have a system, and you trust your system. A backup mechanism that you cannot trust will stop you from sleeping well at night.

Alon Sabi

VP of Technology

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