Your digital work could be at risk of deletion

Recently, a man with a successful blog on a free hosting platform lost access to his website and email account that contained more than 14 years’ worth of content. His writing and artistry instantly became inaccessible overnight, and he didn’t maintain a backup copy of his work. The situation was disheartening to the artist, but it serves as an important reminder to those with online content – always backup important work.

When an artist shares writing, photos, videos, or other creative works on a free website, the creator doesn’t necessarily have control of the digital space it occupies. The hosting company may have rules in its terms of service (TOS) that regulates the type of content an artist may place on the website. Material the company may deem inappropriate can be removed, or the firm can simply shut down the account and deny access to the content creator. Creators may have little or no recourse with such actions as they agreed to the TOS in the account creation phase of setting up the free website or free email address.

How can someone protect digital work posted online? The first and most important thing to do with any work is to make backup copies. Hard drives crash. Websites get deleted. Accounts get hacked. A creator can never be certain if or when a destructive data wipe will occur, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Keep all creative content on a storage space you control. This will help prevent others from easily taking it away from you. A local hard drive on your computer is ideal as a primary destination for hard-to-replace material, but it shouldn’t be the only source for your work.

Hard drives fail. Fires rip through homes. Thieves steal equipment. Damaging malware deletes or locks down data. With so many things that could go wrong, it pays to have a secondary destination such as an external hard drive or cloud space (Internet-based digital storage) to serve as a backup. Whatever backup method you choose, keep it at a location other than the same site as the primary hard drive. Diversified storage of materials will help maintain access to that material as of the last backup and limit losses no matter what happens to a website or primary hard drive.

Another way to protect work posted online is to purchase a domain (website name) and web hosting plan (lease space on a company’s server). It allow you to maintain greater control over your web space, including the content you post, how you apply it, and how others can access it, and many plans include one or more email accounts in a hosting package. There are many providers with a variety of plans and associated costs, so shop around to get the best deal. Type web hosting service into your favorite browser to learn more about this option.

Always have a backup plan in case the unthinkable happens with your content. It will help preserve your creativity for future generations to enjoy.