Working Friction VS Backup Friction

Last week I spent most of my time backing my entire data archive to offsite drives. Why did it take so long? Thanks for asking, let me tell you.

I have three places that my data lives:

  • Working Drive - any active projects currently being worked on.
  • Primary Backup - a backup of all active data and finished projects.
  • Offsite Backup - a duplicate of my primary backup that lives at home in a fireproof safe.

I experience friction in my workflow in two ways:

  • Working Friction - anything that slows me down while I'm doing actual work.
  • Backup Friction - anything that makes it difficult or slow to backup my data.

When you work by yourself, you will make a decision about which kind of friction is worse. Personally, Working Friction was far more bothersome to me than Backup Friction. So I organized projects that I was actively working on in a way that minimized the amount of friction I felt working with that data every day. There was very little hierarchy, a lot of top-level folders and not much attention to file and folder naming.

When it came time to backup that data, I was comfortable with a higher level of friction. It was not easy to backup this data because my backup drives are meticulously organized to avoid accidentally storing duplicates of large files. Meticulous organization also makes it much easier to avoid confusing which is the "final" version of some project or file.

So every time I decided to backup my working data, I had to do a lot of things that could not be automated. Fairly unorganized data had to be integrated into a highly organized backup hierarchy and I was the only person who knew how the whole system worked.

This week I decided to change my approach. I intend to start producing more video, not less, which will require backups to happen more frequently, especially when working on projects for clients. Backup friction will become a LOT more noticeable, especially when multiple people are responsible for backing up projects.

In this new approach, I implemented some naming and hierarchy conventions for my working data. This will create more working friction. It's noticeable, but not awful. Things have to go in the right place and be named the right way.

But the payoff is huge when it comes to backing up the data. Backup is now simple. There's no complicated scheme for moving data from the working drive to the backup drive. Just run the appropriate Chronosync script and it will happen automatically. 

Doing an offsite backup is just as easy. My data lives in 3 "collections" and each collection has it's own corresponding offsite drive. Once a month I can bring those drives in and sync them with right collection on the primary backup drive. Done.

I'll do a screencast about this at some point in the future showing some specific examples, but the main thing I've learned through this process is this. If you work by yourself, do whatever you want. But if you start working with other people, if you start delegating critical tasks like data backup, you HAVE to make backup a simple process for other people to do. 

Work is always preferable to backup. Backup will never feel like a good idea until it's too late. For that reason, backup needs to be as easy as possible. If you're going to eliminate friction anywhere, eliminate backup friction. 

Create a set of naming and organizing conventions for your working data and backups. Follow these conventions religiously when working on new projects and backup will be much easier.