File Backup, Organization, and Lists

Do you back up your files on the regular? I’m okay with remembering to back up my files to an external hard drive and USB drives. But I’ve never really bothered much with the cloud, to be honest.

Since the new year, I started to add my efforts online. For now, I’m spreading my files across various free storage options. The downside to this approach is that I have to keep track of what is uploaded where, since they’re not exact duplicates.

That is one advantage of picking a paid option from the start; everything is together. I think I’ll wait until I hit the free storage limits, then re-evaluate which paid option is a good fit. There’s no harm in trying several of the free services, to see which ones you like best.

I use the free version of Evernote to keep most of my lists and notes. Starting the process to get this organized made me realize I also need to go back and note down what individual music tracks I’ve downloaded from my Google Play album purchases, and then catch up.

I’ve been downloading only certain songs from an album that I want at the moment, so it’s a pain to have to go back and then download all the other songs individually, too. Take it from me, DON’T do this!

If you buy an album, use the ‘download album’ option. It automatically creates a .zip file so you only download one file. It’s easier to copy the .zip file to your various backups — online and physical — and then unzip the file later at your leisure.

You can only download twice from Play if you’re not using their apps, and there isn’t a convenient download count listed next to the songs. But sure, how many times you’ve played a song is shown. That’s super useful.

So, that’s on my To Do list. Thankfully, I haven’t bought a ton yet, but Play Canada has had some good freebies, deals, and coupons. 50% off an album? Yes, please. The W.E. soundtrack has been my jam lately.

So, I need to start consistently tracking and listing my media and files in one place. Which is why something like Evernote or OneNote with synchronization works, because I do all the typing, and admin stuff like formatting, tagging and organizing the notes / notebooks on my laptop. Having a copy to refer to on the phone (and other devices, optional) is handy, now that I’ve adopted this workflow.

Evernote’s free 2 device plan shy of your computer-tablet-phone trinity? Use website as 3rd Click To Tweet

I considered using Dropbox to keep my old system of notes and lists in .doc or .txt formats, but it feels easier to synchronize a note program rather than constantly re-save and re-download (because if they’re in those formats, I’d want to keep an extra copy on the laptop, too).

Here are the free accounts I’m taking advantage of to try:
(Referral links)


Register with my referral, we both get an extra 1 GB on your new account

Cut/paste referral instructions, if you don’t see your extra 1 GB

5 GB Free / Paid options

  • Desktop install available, like Dropbox.
  • Android / iOS apps
  • Canadian and on Canadian servers, if that matters to you. If you need business / non-profit use, see their privacy compliance list.
  • The android app has poor reviews, so I’ll probably just use the website if I need access there.


Register with my referral, we both get an extra 0.5 GB on your new account
* Reminder: If you have an Outlook/Hotmail email, Windows 8/8.1/10 device, or Xbox Live, you likely already have a free OneDrive account.

5 GB Free / Paid options

  • Android / iOS apps
  • Microsoft Office 365 included in business and 2 TB personal paid options
  • If you created a new Microsoft account (not a local account on your device) just for Windows admin, but don’t otherwise use that login for anything else Microsoft, (I’d completely forgotten about mine), you should have a OneDrive account.
  • Likewise, if you have a free Hotmail/Live/Outlook email address, and normally only use that. When you’re signed in, tap that set of squares, and you’ll see the link to OneDrive.

OneDrive access from within web mail view


Register with referral, we both get an extra 0.5 GB on your new account

2 GB Free / Paid options

  • Android / iOS apps
  • I use Dropbox mostly for transferring files to and from my phone (BB 10 device) and my laptop, so the low free storage doesn’t bother me too much. Once I’ve transferred something, it usually gets deleted within Dropbox.
  • My tablet is sadly “not compatible with this version” i.e. too old, to use the android app, so I can’t comment on it.


10 GB Free / Paid options

I may try Box later. Anyone know why they want your phone number to sign up?

Google Drive

15 GB Free / Paid options

This is included with any google service account (gmail, youtube, etc.), and the free storage includes your email box.


Also, for photos: if you have a Yahoo account, you could use Flickr.

UPDATE: I seem to have several pictures in limbo. “This photo is no longer available.” Can’t recommend unless they fix this.

1 TB Free / Paid Pro feature upgrades no longer offered?

  • I’d say don’t bother for video, as they actually cut off any video you upload to three (!) minutes. Unless all your clips are short, that ‘feature’ is not really useful.
  • You can change the ‘Privacy and Permissions’ settings to upload your files as private for storage only, if you don’t want your files to be have public visibility.
How to set your Flickr photo uploads to private. Use "Only You."

Click for larger size.

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by OneDrive, it’s usually quite fast in uploading small files. I also re-discovered an old Mediafire account which to my surprise, has 50 GB free storage. What?! I’ll obviously be using that for quite a while. (NOTE: new accounts get 10 GB). Due to their default non-private settings (your folders are public unless you specifically change them), it doesn’t seem like a good first choice for purely personal storage, though.

Is there a Marie Kondo approach to digital stuff? Looking at this process also made me realize I probably have more ebooks than I’ll ever manage to read. Hmm, maybe I should stop collecting free ebooks. But specific to ebook freebies, how do you know if it gives you joy, when you haven’t read it yet? 😛

— Are you on your A-game when it comes to backing up your files? What free or paid service(s) do you use / recommend? —



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Site suggestions to use for backing up files online

Updated September 2017


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