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The 10 step Web Designers check list for backing up

A quick check list of items you need backup before you move, delete or format your system.

Picture of a check list

Recently a good friend of mine Martin Coulthurst of Lightness recently backed up his computer and asked me about various things he would need to backup, I had a think and we bounced a few things back and forth on what we need to back up, conversation ended and he did his install. The next day we spoke and he realised he forgot one or two very important things – fonts! This then prompted me to think about a little check list of items that I will be thinking about when next back!

1. Get yourself an external hard drive

With the price of external hard drives now a days there is no excuse for not having the money to buy one. Over at they have a Western Digital My Book Essential 500GB USB2.0 External Hard Drive for £62.99 – bargain! Get this and you are ready to go!

2. Documents

The treasure chest of any designer, if like me in this folder which can sometimes be called the Desktop (!) has everything saved picture files, word documents with little notes, CSS snippets and even the stray file called something informative such as smd-application3.php which a week ago was as familiar to you as your date of birth, 2 weeks down the line means nothing!

3. Browser Settings, Favourites & Add-ons

There isn’t an easy to back up your browsers settings unless you download a 3rd party tool. In my experience I find that proxy settings, browser adds-ons such as FireBug/IE Dev Tool bar are my most important ones. Best and easiest way to do this is either – take notes or print screen them into a word document.

  • To find out FireFox add-ons – Tools > Add-ons
  • To find out IE add-ons – Tools > Manage Add-ons
  • To find out Safari add-ons – Help > Installed Plug-ins
  • To find out Opera add-ons – Widgets > Manage Widgets

Favourites is also something important you want to backup, as designs and most other IT people know how annoying it is when you find something and don’t bookmark it, well that feeling is multiplied by a million when you’ve lost ALL your favourites, trust me I know.

To find your favorites they are here – C:\Documents and Settings\PCNAME\Favorites

4. Fonts

Another little designer’s paradise – all the fonts you’ve sound, all the various versions of Arial that are slightly thinner or slightly bolder. Some fonts you’ve found and probably not paid for. All these can be found within the Control Panel > Fonts.

Useful resource if you have lost all your lovely fonts –

5. MSN/SKYPE conversations

I find keeping my conversation that I have had with clients is pretty useful. Whether it be checking back on something you maybe of lightly agreed to or something you may have said to a client or something else you can’t remember, it’s pretty useful to go back and check.

If you are saving MSN conversation you can find them here – C:\Documents and Settings\COMPUTERNAME\My Documents\My Received Files\EMAILADDRESS1212445099954\History.

If you want to turn conversation saving on in MSN then open up the main MSN window – Tools > Options > Messages > Message History (at the bottom)

6. Email

I personally use Gmail and Hotmail just for the fact that if my system does die, I have this backed up online – for free! But if you are using Outlook then I recommend doing a PST backup of all the email, this may take a while so remember to stick a DVD to pass the time – I recommend the film Hunger – the story of Bobby Sands – Fantastic film.

7. Software

Everyone knows how annoying this is when you have your software suite perfect then the manufacturers go and do something intelligent like release a new version of software that is poorer than its predecessor (MSN Messenger & Fireworks CS4!) or discontinue the software you are using. I tend to keep my software AND products keys backed up, I suggest you to do the same! Last thing you want is a deadline date, dead system and no software! At least if you’ve backed up you can install what you need as a short term measure. A site I recommend is OldVersion – which I am sure you can guess what the site is about.

8. Media

Pictures, Music, films or even ambient sounds of frogs or even System of a Down albums (what I use to design to) is all pretty important when you’re in the ZONE.

9. FTP site lists

If like me you have 1 FTP programme with all the sites that I look after listed, then you will be pretty annoyed if you lost all them! I do have them all saved but it is a chore having to wade through emails trying to find each and every site you look after! Even if you have then found chances are the FTP password has been changed so you have to then log in to the cPanel or dashboard to get the details so its a pretty good tip to save these!

Most FTP programs come with an export/import option that usually exports out as a CSV or text file of some kind. This option is a winner for me, I probably would use an FTP programme that doesn’t have this feature – WiseFTP 5 does and that is what I use.

10. Client list & business documents

This is probably THEE most important thing to back up, I personally carry all these on USB stick which is locked away in a fireproof, flood proof and child proof safe. My client list has all my clients’ names, emails, contact numbers and dates of work and what was done. Just imagine if you lost this? I actually feel anxious writing that! Same goes with business documents, all backed up just in case anything happens.

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