Yesterday, for the first time, one of PG’s websites (not The Passive Voice) experienced a malware infestation.
PG was very happy to have previously installed a security plugin called Wordfence to protect all his WordPress websites.
Wordfence prevented any damage or downtime for the site and, on PG’s command, automatically eliminated all but one nasty file and/or file modification.
For the single unauthorized file modification the program didn’t eliminate automatically, Wordfence provided PG with detailed instructions pointing to the modified code which allowed PG to eliminate it.
PG suggests that if you have a website you use for commercial or professional reasons (like an author website), you should protect it with an antimalware program.
Although PG isn’t an expert on all things malware, he believes a program to protect your blog will be a different/separate program from an antivirus or antimalware program that protects your computer.
Malware protection won’t protect you from damage to your site from a computer crash or a fat-fingered error on your part, however, so you should also make regular backups of your author website and put them somewhere that a computer crash of your own machine won’t destroy them.
In the ancient days of personal computing, backups were kept on physical floppy disks (remember those?) or separate external hard drives. Best practices were to store such backups at a separate location so a catastrophe affecting your office wouldn’t destroy both your computer and the backup disks sitting in your desk drawer.
Today, online cloud-based backup services allow you to securely store your backups somewhere (or several somewheres) far away. PG has used Dropbox for this purpose for a long time. For example, he keeps all his word processing files in a computer file folder sits inside his Dropbox folder and is accessible in exactly the same way as it would be if it were only stored on PG’s hard drive.
Dropbox also does an excellent job of coordinating PG’s files on the various computers and other devices he uses on a regular basis. For example, PG can access his Dropbox files on his iPhone, iPad and a couple of Android tablets he uses on occasion.
PG has created and used valuable digital files for himself and his clients for a long time. Compared to the early days of personal computers, hardware and software has become extraordinarily more powerful and reliable. The internet has opened up many more ways of safely securing computer files at locations that won’t be affected by local power interruptions, destructive power spikes or PG’s own fat-fingered mistakes.
However, PG has also witnessed myriad ways in which important documents and other records can be destroyed. One attorney friend lost all of his stored paper and backup electronic files (on disks) when the secure offsite facility where they were stored was crushed under a freeway overpass that collapsed during an earthquake.
PG always strives to have one more backup than he thinks he will need. Online cloud backup sufficient to hold electronic manuscripts for all the books you are likely to write during your lifetime is very inexpensive.
For electronic discovery purposes, attorneys generally estimate that one Gigabyte (GB) of electronic storage will contain about 50-75 thousand pages of business documents. One thousand Gigabytes equals One Terabyte (TB) of electronic storage or 50-75 million pages of documents.
Let’s turn this into paper: A ream of copy paper is 500 pages and a case holds 10 reams (5,000 pages). So, a GB is the equivalent of 100 to 150 reams of paper (10 to 15 cases), which PG doesn’t think would fit into a typical passenger car and would require a large SUV or a pickup truck to transport.
One TB is the equivalent 100,000 to 150,000 reams of paper or 10,000 to 15,000 cases of paper.
PG did a little online checking and discovered that a typical semi truck-trailer holds 21 full pallets, 40 cases of copy paper per pallet, 840 cases per truck.
PG couldn’t find a photo of either twelve or 17 semi truck-trailers, but that’s what it would take to haul the paper equivalent of the number of typical business document pages you can store on a one-terabyte hard drive.
You can buy a one-terabyte hard drive which will hold all the books you will ever write and all the revisions of your manuscripts for those books and still have room for a bunch of selfies for $46.99 at Amazon.
Here’s a backup plan:
- Buy two of these hard drives.
- Back-up/copy all of your manuscripts, revisions, etc., to one of those hard drives and give that one to a friend to keep for you.
- Next week, back-up/copy all of your manuscripts, revisions, etc., to the other hard drive, give the second hard drive to your friend and retrieve the first one from your friend.
- Repeat. And buy your friend lunch once in a while to show your gratitude. PG doesn’t know if the lunch will be deductible as a business expense for offsite storage of valuable business files or not.
If your computer eats your manuscript, you have last week’s backup on the portable hard drive you have with you. And your friend has this week’s backup if you want that. If you use Dropbox, you’ll also have the last version of your manuscript that you saved there.
If you have a healthy level of paranoia and have two friends, PG suspects you can figure out how this backup plan could scale.
PG has never heard anyone complain because they have too many backups of their important files.