How to Protect Your Digital Files (Part 2)

As more and more of our lives are stored on computers, it's easy to rely on technology and forget that a small glitch can lead to catastrophe. Get-It-Done Guy has more tips on keeping your work safe (Hint: It involves regular backups).

Stever Robbins
6-minute read
Episode #541

You Need Zero-Knowledge

For security, choose a cloud backup provider that provides Zero-Knowledge Encryption. Zero-knowledge encryption means that only you have your encryption password. Your cloud provider has zero-knowledge. They can’t access your data, even if they want to, and neither can anyone who breaks into their systems. But remember your backup password! If you forget it, no one will be able to access your backups.

Which App to Use

I've compiled a list of the backup applications that provide the best service and security in the cloud. All of these are zero-knowledge:

SpiderOak One runs on all major platforms, even Linux. When you delete a file, the prior versions of the file will remain in your backup until you tell Spider Oak to delete them. That makes SpiderOak great for recovering long-ago-deleted versions of files. They also have an iOS app so you can access your files from an iPhone. The downside is that I’ve found the interface a bit clunky and slow. With SpiderOak, you can have one account with multiple computers. You pay based on how much total storage you use.

Backblaze runs on Mac and PC and also has a mobile app. Backblaze emphasizes ease-of-use and charges per-machine, giving you unlimited storage per machine. For a single computer, Backblaze is less expensive than SpiderOak. But if you have multiple machines, it’s worth comparison shopping if price is your main consideration.

ARQ is a backup app that does regular backups, but doesn’t come with its own cloud storage. ARQ is a one-time purchase, and then you back up to an Amazon AWS account, or Rackspace, or an FTP server, or Google Drive, or … whatever cloud you choose to use. Since ARQ encrypts your backups, you can use any cloud storage and know your backups are private. I use ARQ to create extra backups of my most critical files on Amazon AWS and Google Drive.

oDrive is like ARQ, in that it’s a backup program that backs up to any (or all!) of the clouds you can access. But oDrive goes further. It lets you share files and folders by generating sharing links. It gives you fine-grained control over who can access different files and how. Unlike ARQ, oDrive requires an ongoing subscription to use the zero-knowledge encryption. Their free plan is not zero-knowledge. Also, oDrive’s paid plan lets you move files to your oDrive but still access them as if they were local. So you get the benefits of a local file while not using the disk space.

pCloud is an odd mix of backup and file sharing. It creates a virtual drive on your computer. Move files into that drive and, just like oDrive’s premium feature, they get stored in the cloud. You can still access them as if they were on your desktop; they’re pulled down from the cloud as needed to your local machine. pCloud provides file sharing links as well. I store my large media files in a pCloud drive so they don’t take up too much disk space.

You can also buy a Crypto add-on, which gives you a special zero-knowledge encrypted folder on your pCloud drive in which everything is encrypted. Unlike oDrive, which is pay-as-you-go, pCloud offers lifetime subscriptions that you can pay upfront. I have their 2Tb-plus-crypto lifetime plans, because I like the pay-once model.

Practice Safe Computing

Don’t let your work be destroyed when a dimensional portal opens up nearby! In addition to your on-site backups, use a cloud backup. Back up at least your Documents folder and important preferences. Choose a provider that gives zero-knowledge encryption, set it all up, and then go about your day knowing your electronic life is safe and sound if you ever need it.

I’m Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re an entrepreneur, self-employed or otherwise need to control your own time, Get-it-Done groups help you start finishing what’s important, and develop the habits you need to be hyper-productive. Learn more at http://SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

Computer backup image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.