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What’s the Best Backup Solution?

What’s the Best Backup Solution?


    Your “techie” friends keep telling you to back up your data. Your IT guy (or gal) scolds you on the importance of backing up your data. Both of them state how easy it is to do this. We’ve even shown you how to do it.  However, you keep hearing about a variety of solutions, ranging from small USB Flash drives, to external “book” drives, to backing up to the cloud. So here’s the question…

    Should you use “cloud” services to back up your files or should you use external hard drives?

    The opinions are divided. On the one hand, Cloud storage technology has matured to the point where it’s fairly reliable. On the other hand, External Hard Drives only cost you the one time, but your data isn’t always available everywhere.

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    There are 2 different goals here and , depending upon how important one or the other is to you, will determine the best solution for you.

    1. Have your data in two different places.
    2. Have your data synchronized across multiple computers (e.g. Work Desktop and Work Laptop, or Work Desktop and Home Laptop).

    Goal # 1 is the most important. If your data isn’t in at least two different places, then you will lose it. This is one of the pitfalls of using external hard drives. Most people use them incorrectly.

    If you want access to your data from anywhere, then goal #2 is equally important, although it requires a different solution. You need to decide how important this goal is to you. If you are constantly e-mailing files from your personal account to your work account (and filling up your quota), then you need to try out a synchronizing service.

    Cloud Services for Backing Up

    All of these options have free trials or free versions (along with various pricing plans) and all of them allow you to very simply back up your data to their cloud storage via the Internet. The major issue is accessing files that you may need from your computer when you are away from it. This is a backup service, not another synchronized copy available via a website. For that, you need the options in the next section.

    Synchronization Services

    I personally favor this approach. I can access my files from anywhere that has Internet access and in most cases, from my phone (although I still haven’t figured out why I would want to do that…)

    “I lost Internet access…”

    What do you do when you have a loss of connectivity to your cloud storage? This can happen due to a power loss, a misunderstanding between you and your provider over the bill payment status, or simply being in a location that has very spotty Internet access.

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    For this, an external hard drive or a USB flash drive or SD card may fit the bill. As long as you have power, you can backup your important work.

    External Hard Drives

    This is one area where external hard drives DO shine. It doesn’t matter if you have Internet connectivity or not. Your data is still safe and sound. Prices (according to the Best Buy circular in today’s paper- your mileage may vary) range from $9 for an 8GB flash drive to a $30 for a 32GB Flash drive. An external hard drive is $110 for a 1 TB drive or $170 for a 3 TB drive.

    The biggest blunder that people make when going this route is that they move all of their files over to the external drive and think, “Now I’m backed up. Now I’m safe”.

    The reality is that you haven’t changed anything.

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    All of your files are still only in one place. The only thing that’s changed is that now you think you’re secure from data loss, when in actuality, you’re worse off. At least when you didn’t have the hard drive in place, you knew you weren’t covered. Now you think that you’re good when you’re not. Your data has to be in TWO places to be safe, not one.

    Cost-wise, you can pay for an external hard drive or a flash drive many times over with the cost of the online backup plans. There is one pitfall. Your files aren’t available via the Internet. A secondary pitfall is that if your house burns down, or a tornado or a hurricane hits it, then your backups are sitting right next to the computer that it’s backing up. I personally have my backup drive for my Mac (that’s at home) kept at work, to reduce this danger.

    The lack of Internet access for your files is where Pogo Plug comes in handy. I purchased the Classic version (with 4 usb ports) and have a drive hooked up to it. Once I connected it to my router for my network at home, I can access it locally as well as via the Internet.

    A Two-Pronged Approach

    I use both the Synchronizing files and the Flash Drives/ SD cards approach. The SD cards are for data that I need to access at any time and I use the Synchronizing option for convenient, don’t-need-to-think-about-it backups.

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    Whichever solution you prefer, you need to back up your data that you care about. I would hate for you to miss out on the memories of newborn children or relatives that have passed away, due to theft or hardware failure. Think of it like an insurance policy  and just do it. Let me know if I missed something.

    (Photo credit: Development via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

    11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

    11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

    Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

    Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

    Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

    In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

    1. ScheduleOnce

      ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

      ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

      ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

      Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

      Available on Web

      2. Calendly

        Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

        You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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        Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

        3. Assistant.to

          For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

          From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

          While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

          Available on Web

          4. Acuityscheduling

            Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

            It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

            Available on Web | iOS | Android

            5. Pick

              Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

              At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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              Available on Web

              6. X.ai

                For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

                This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

                Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

                Available on Web

                7. YouCanBook.me

                  is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                  They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                  Available on Web

                  8. Doodle

                    Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                    It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                    You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                    While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                    Available on Web | iOS | Android

                    9. WhenAvailable

                      WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                      Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                      Available on Web

                      10. Rally

                        Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                        Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                        Available on Web

                        11. NeedtoMeet

                          Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                          NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                          While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                          Available on Web

                          Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                          In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                          To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                          Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                          A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                          Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                          If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                          Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                          With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                          The Bottom Line

                          Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                          Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                          Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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