The Way We Work
December 26, 2011 by Amy Sept

You have just put the finishing touches on a big project. You feel great – until the moment your computer tells you that your hard drive is about to fail.

It is moments like this when we remember that we should have had a plan in place – but forgot. Chances are you have been in this situation once or twice. Whatever your unpredictable technology-related issue, one thing seems certain: These problems always come up at the most inconvenient times.

It costs extra effort and stress to recreate work you have lost – especially if your deadline is looming – plus you have other projects to tackle. Here are a few proactive steps you can take to help you safeguard your files and your time.

Create a framework so you can fill in the blanks

While having a plan for every project will not always save you, it can still save time if the worst happens, because at least you have a framework to help you recreate your work. If you don’t already do this, try to make a habit of sketching a rough outline of your project ahead of time. 

Get to know your autosave and version options

Automatic backup functions vary from program to program so there is no easy “how-to” guide for this. However, for the programs you use most frequently, check the help files or do an Internet search to check for autosave or version functionality. You may be able to adjust the frequency of these backups by adjusting the settings.

Learn to love working in the cloud

Beyond your many options for saving files to the cloud, there are an increasing number of options for actually doing your work online.

If you need more than the basic products offered through services like Google Documents or photo editors like Picnik, your cloud-based options have been slim – but they are quickly increasing. More industry-focused solutions are in progress: For example, Autodesk is moving at least some functionality to the cloud and Adobe recently launched Creative Cloud.

Old technology can still help

Your external hard drive and stack of blank DVDs may be collecting dust in the corner, but sometimes old tech offers a certain degree of comfort.

If you use Windows 7, for example, you can schedule a weekly automatic backup to copy your main drive to an external disk. This is a particularly good option if your Internet connection is slow or less than reliable – and large external drives are increasingly affordable.

Do you have any creative solutions for recovering lost work? How do you safeguard your important files? Share your advice in the comments section!

Amy Sept

Managing Editor

As the managing editor of the Upwork blog, Amy Sept works with regular and guest writers to share information that helps freelancers and businesses navigate the future of work. A writer and social media pro, she owns Nimbyist Communications and often works remotely with non-profits, tech companies, and small business owners.