Travel Work
Smarter travel: Protecting client and personal data, Part 2: Back it up!
January 28, 2015

Learn how to protect your data, along with your clients’, in this new Smarter Travel post.

I wrote before about some ways to be smart about protecting client data, and your own, when working as a digital nomad. The first post focused on in-person security. Today I’m going to discuss a multi-part backup solution that protects data in case of loss or theft of your devices.

Regular backups are important!

So you’ve got your life on your computer – this isn’t uncommon for digital nomads. However, that data is contained on a hard drive. These hard drives bring with them a risk of failure over time. The actual failure rate is different depending on the brand of the drive, but anything over zero introduces a risk of failure and data loss.

Do you really want to lose any of your photos, personal info or client data due to a failed hard drive?

What about a stolen laptop? If someone takes your gear, you’re probably not getting it back. If what’s on that drive is your only copy, you would be out of luck. Here’s a three-part solution that I use when I’m on the road.

Physical backups:

A small hard drive used to do regular backups of your laptop drive (plus photos and other things you don’t always need on your laptop) is super useful.

A portable Toshiba 1TB drive runs just under $70;
Or go with a similarly-priced Western Digital 1TB;
Or you can double your space for just $30 more.

Both Windows and OSX have their own backup software built into the operating systems (Windows Backup and Time Machine, respectively). Backing up is super easy, as long as you get the hard drive and make regular physical backups a priority.


Full-drive off-site backups:

In addition to the physical backup, an off-site backup is also important. You’re looking to create redundancy in your backup solution, in case any one solution fails. For instance, if both your laptop and your backup hard drive were to burn up in an apartment fire, an off-site backup would come in handy.

I use a service called CrashPlan to do my backups. It takes a few days to do the initial upload, but after that the updates to online files are relatively quick. It does it automatically, and you can set it to only backup if you’re idling or using a low percentage of CPU speed.

There are others, as well. Here’s a comparison of the many services available, from Wikipedia.

Syncing your most important files:

I also use Dropbox to keep my most important files backed up and synced across all of my devices. I then have the ability to access these files wherever I am and whatever device I’m on.

I encrypt my Dropbox with BoxCryptor, so the information is more secure. We’ll talk about that in the next installment of this series, though.

Other services:

In addition to these backups, I use Google’s instant upload of photos from my phone.

This uploads all new photos that I’ve taken as soon as I hit WiFi, in their full resolution. The photos are then stored in my Google Drive. This service is $2 a month, because I’ve gone over the free amount of space that they give out to everybody. Again, a small price to pay for security of my important data.

Do you have a backup solution that I’ve overlooked? I’d love to hear it. Please post it in the comments!

photo credit: Axel Schwenke and LifeSupercharger via photopin cc

About author

Zachary Strebeck

I'm a solo practice lawyer and full-time digital nomad. I run my law practice at, representing Internet, mobile software and gaming entrepreneurs. I also blog about digital nomad travel at A Lawyer Abroad.

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