Tips & Tricks

Protect Your Digital Assets or Risk Losing Your Memories

file1061299116518Recently, my computer’s hard drive crashed and I lost everything, including 11+ years of digital photos and videos (plus countless documents and software). Those photos and videos were priceless to me because they chronicled every life event involving me, my wife and our three kids. It was easily 10’s of thousands of photos and 100’s of videos.

It could have been a disastrous event but it wasn’t.

The reason? I had everything backed up.

Over the years, I have developed a digital back up plan and it’s saved me more than once.

Creating a plan could save you too because your hard drive will eventfully fail. It’s just a matter of time.

It’s not hard and it’s not all that expensive. It just takes a little bit of time.

Below are the steps I take to protect my photos and videos.

1) Back up all files on external hard drives

I own three different external hard drives that I can plug into my computer via USB and copy whatever files that I want. The drives are pretty small and range in file capacity from 500 gigabytes to 1 terabyte. They are relatively cheap as well. I paid less than $100 for each of them.

I keep one of the drives in my backpack, another at home and I give the third one to my mom for safe-keeping at her house.

I update my files on all three drives on a regular basis, especially whenever I download new pictures/videos from my camera.

2) Use free online cloud storage from Dropbox and Google Drive

You can get 5 gigabytes of free cloud storage from Dropbox just for signing up. After signing up, you can download the software on your computer that allows you easily drag and drop files into your Dropbox folder. Those files are available from any computer, mobile app or tablet. It’s a great way to share files between devices. Plus, the Dropbox mobile app will automatically back up photos taken on your smartphone.

I also use Google Drive to store my files on the cloud. If you have a Gmail account, you can get 15 gigabytes of space. That’s a lot of space to store your files. If you upgrade to a Google Apps account, you get 30 gigabytes of space. It works similarly to Dropbox. All you have to do is drag and drop files.

I keep a lot of my files on Dropbox and Google Drive and never save them on my computers. This allows me to access them from anywhere (which is really convenient).

3) Manually download photos and videos taken on my smartphone (or tablet) to my computer

As I mentioned above, you can back up photos and videos automatically using the Dropbox mobile app or you can also use Apple’s iCloud (they give you 5 gigabytes of space for free). I’m sure there are tons of other free and paid options out there.

If you go with the free cloud services, you might not have enough storage space. That’s why I still manually download photos and videos from iPhone onto my computer (which are then automatically backed up in either steps #1 or #4).

4) Use Carbonite to automatically back up all the files from my computer

Carbonite is a secure service that automatically copies all the files on your computer(s) to Carbonite’s servers. It costs $60 per year per computer or you can upgrade to a business plan that allows for the backing up of multiple computers. It does take some time to back up all the files but once they’re backed up, you can access them at any time. When you add new files, Carbonite automatically backs them up as well.

I opt for the plan for only one computer because I use my desktop PC as the primary hub for all of my files and documents. I share files between that PC and my laptops using our home wireless network or Dropbox/Google Drive (as mentioned above).

I had Carbonite on my computer that crashed but I let my subscription expire because I thought I didn’t need it. Lesson learned. Fortunately for me, I had everything on external drives. When I got my computer back yesterday with a brand new 2 terabyte hard drive, one of the first things I did was renew my Carbonite subscription.

As you can see, it’s not that hard or expensive to have a good solid back up plan for all of your digital assets. Plus, it’s worth the peace of mind knowing that you’re protected if something happens to your computer.

Preserving memories is what it’s all about.

How to Change Your Domain Name’s Nameservers at GoDaddy.com

There are two main components to setting up every website. The first part of is registering your website or blog’s domain name (ex. acmecompany.com). Some of the most popular domain registrars are GoDaddy or Network Solutions.

After you’ve registered the domain name, you’ll have to set up website hosting. That’s the place where your website files will live. I personally use Site5 but there are tons of great hosting companies out there. Hosting agreements are typically paid for monthly or annually.

Once you’ve set up hosting, you’ll have to tell your domain registrar where to point your website domain so any visitors coming to your site will directed to the right place. To do this, you’ll have to edit your nameserver. After you’ve paid for hosting, your hosting company will send you a welcome email with directions on how to do this. What you will specify for nameservers will typically be something like dns1.site5.com or dns2.site5.com.

Here are the instructions for changing nameservers within your GoDaddy account.

1) Log in to your GoDaddy account

2) Click on “All Products” in GoDaddy’s navigation menu and then click on “Domain Management”

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3) You’ll see a list of all the domains you have registered. If you’ve only registered one, you’ll see one in the list. Click on the domain name you want to edit.

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4) You’ll see a selection of options going across the top starting with “Organize” and ending with “Delete Selected.” Click on “Nameservers” and then “Set Nameservers” in the drop-down menu that appears.

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5) The “Set Nameservers” dialog box will open. Make sure “I have specific nameservers for my domains” is selected. By default, the nameservers will be something like ns19.domaincontrol.com and ns20.domaincontrol.com.

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6) Enter the nameservers supplied by your hosting company. Click the “OK” button.

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7) You’ll get a message confirming that your changes have been submitted. Be aware, it could take up to 24 hours for the changes to take effect. They usually happen much quicker than that.

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You should now be good to go. Within 24-48 hours you should be able to access your hosting control panel and begin setting up your website. Good luck!

How to Create a Gmail Email Forwarder

At some point, you may want to forward your Gmail emails (or a copy of them) to another email address. There could be several reasons:

  • You’re no longer using that Gmail address
  • You have multiple Gmail addresses and don’t want to have to check each account all the time
  • You don’t want someone to see your real email address
  • You created an email address for a specific purpose like using one of Google’s many free tools

I probably have five or six Gmail addresses that I’ve created over the years. Most of them now forward to my primary email address.

Check out the how-to video below where I walk you through all the steps in creating your email forwarder.

How to Create an Email Signature in Microsoft Outlook 2007

I send/receive a ton of emails on a daily basis. I make sure that every email includes my name, company name, contact information and links to all my social networking profiles.

These easiest way to do this automatically is to create an email signature. Every time I create I new message or reply to one, the information is automatically added. Plus, I use the opportunity to promote my monthly email newsletter at the very bottom.

Watch the video below to learn how to create your own email signature.

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What are some of the most creative email signatures you’ve seen?

Cheat Sheet for Tweeting “Retweetable” Tweets

Getting people to “retweet” your Twitter posts is a great way to get yourself more exposure and reach.

I just read a great blog post by Aliza Sherman (@alizasherman), “Tweeting 101: A Twitter Cheat Sheet” on WebWorkerDaily.com.

In the post, Aliza discusses some of the reasons for using Twitter such as branding, communications and community. She also talks about how to use Twitter and how to make your tweets “retweetable.”

This is a great resource and I highly recommend that you check it out.

PPT Presentation: Growing Your Business with Social Media

Below is a presentation that I gave last night at Social Media Club of Evansville.

Growing Your Business With Social Media – Social Media Club Evansville

View more presentations from Jay Lane.
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How to Exclude Internal Company Traffic From Your Google Analytics Data

ga_filter3_2.25.10One of the quickest ways to negatively inflate/skew your Google Analytics data is to include internal company site traffic.

Many companies have their Web site set as the home page in their Internet browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome). Every time an employee opens their browser to surf the Internet, the company Web site comes up.

It’s not just visits that gets skewed. Your bounce rate shoots up and your average time on site goes way down. Plus, your home page traffic is not going to be proportional to the traffic on other pages of your site.

It’s easy to filter out your internal traffic. Here are 4 simple steps:

1) Find out your network’s IP address. Depending on company size, you may have multiple IP addresses. If you have an IT person, ask him. If you don’t have someone, go to www.WhatisMyIP.com. As soon as the site pulls up, you should see “Your IP Address Is:” and a number that looks something like “72.135.156.44” directly below it. This is your IP address.

2) Login to your Google Analytics account. At the bottom right corner of the page you should see a “Filter Manager” link. Click it.

3) Click on “+ Add Filter” in the top right corner (denoted by the red arrow below)

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You’ll be taken to a “Create New Filter” page.

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Give your filter a name. I called my “Exclude company traffic.”

Since we want to exclude traffic from our IP address, select “Exclude,” “traffic from the IP addresses,” and “that are equal to” in the three dropdown menus.

Enter your IP address. Mine was “72.135.156.44.”

Select which Web sites you want to filter by clicking on the appropriate Web site profile(s) and then clicking “Add>>”

Click “Save Changes”

4) You’re done! Sit back and relax knowing that your Web site traffic activity is a little more accurate.

If you’re smart, you’ll exclude your marketing team’s IP address as well in case they want to inflate the numbers in an attempt to show how good of a job they’re doing.

Additional resources: Google Analytics has a good help page with more information about excluding internal traffic.

Installing a WordPress site at Network Solutions

I just helped a friend set up a WordPress Web site at Network Solutions. I’ve set up a ton of WordPress sites with Site5 (the hosting company I use) and GoDaddy but never Network Solutions. I wasn’t sure if it would be a smooth installation or if I’d run into issues.

I ran into an issue.

After uploading all the files, we got a database error but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I went to Google and found a blog post with a tip on solving the problem.

The post said to enter the site’s IP address in the “DB_NAME” field (in the wp-config file) but I think he meant “DB_HOST” field. That’s what I did anyway and it fixed the database error that we were getting. The site is now working like it should.

Thanks to Andrew at Fungible Convictions for the tip. It made my life a whole lot easier.