Essential Tools: Files

Files everywhere!  One of the challenges of a digital life is the large number of files you wind up accumulating.  Versions of files, emailed around, living on different computers. To solve this, I use a couple of tools:

  • Dropbox - keeps a folder in sync across multiple machines and in the cloud
  • Google Docs - files stored on a central server, with a lightweight editor
  • Mozy - backup large volumes of data to the cloud
  • Mac OS X Time Machine - backup really large volumes of data to a local 3TB drive
  • Subversion - working with software development source files

Using these tools (and corresponding iPhone apps) I can access pretty much anything, anytime, anywhere.  My core work docs are stored in Dropbox, and the personal HD video project. I don't have to touch anything and everything is automatically backed up.  My home machine died recently, and with a new machine and Time Machine I was back up and running in a few hours. No need to bring a laptop on a trip: everything is already available on my phone.

One thing people always ask me about my setup - what about security?  Aren't you worried about storing your files in the cloud?

Of course I worry about security.  Security isn't just about hackers, though - it's also about backups.  It's also about credentials - I use lots of different passwords, which I manage via a password management package (you do use a different, 16 character+ hash-style password for all of your systems, right?).  It's not perfect... but nothing ever is.  I do keep track of security bulletins for the services above, and I also know about all of the scary security stuff already floating around in cell phones, email systems...

At some point, you just need to get your work done.