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Back Up Google Drive with CrashPlan

Today, as I put another spreadsheet with Store Locator Plus and Enhanced Results features onto Google Drive, I realized something.   If Google Drive crashes, very unlikely but stranger things have happened, I don’t have a backup copy of ANY of my Google Drive documents.  There are a lot of things I have out there that I really don’t want to re-create.   It is even more important now that I am using Google Drive to store spreadsheets that are an integral part of my WordPress plugin documentation.

While I’m thinking of it, let’s go down that road for a moment.

Using Google for WordPress Tables

A few days ago I wanted to start building an “add on pack comparison” to the site.   It helps me organize my thoughts on what features belong in which plugins, reminds me of where I put those features, and also educates the consumer on what plugin they may be interested in.    I decided a wide table with side-by-side columns for each plugin was the best option.   Since it is not a true price comparison I needed a flexible grid display.

I tried a number of table plugins that are out there in the WordPress extensions directory.   Unfortunately a large number of those plugins were defunct, many not updated in years.   The few that were updated were adequate but too hard to man-handle to look  just the way I wanted, requiring extensive CSS updates and HTML man-handling to behave as I desired.  Sure, some of those, like TablePress, had options to make those efforts easier but still not effortless.

Then I stumbled across a post that discussed inserting a Google spreadsheet in the middle of a page.   You create a spreadsheet, format it how you like, and then publish to web.   Select the “embed code” and get the unique iframe tag to put on your site.  While I was leary of the iframe idea, it worked beautifully.   Now I can format the colors, fonts, and column data exactly how I want with the ease of updating the Google spreadsheet.  It is far easier to click a cell and the color box and see the background change than tweak CSS all day.

If you are trying to put tables in WordPress you may want to check that out.     Create the spreadsheet in Google, go to “publish to web”, publish, go to “get embed code”, copy the iframe HTML snippet, and paste into your page or post (in text mode).   Tweak the width and height parameter to fit your site.  Done.

embedded google spreadsheet
embedded google spreadsheet

Check off “auto-republish” and every time you make a change it will reflect on the website within a few hours (or you can force a manual republish if you need if faster).

Nice.

Backing Up Google Drive

So back to the backup issue.   I have a lot of doc, some integral to my public site, on Google Drive.   I NEED to back those up.    How did I do it?  Turns out easier than I thought.

First, I run CrashPlan as my backup service.  MUCH better than Mozy which is over-priced, IMO.   A MILLION TIMES better than Carbonite, which is slow as heck, throttles the computer, has horrible restore times, and worse support response times.   In fact if you are considering backup my only key recommendation is do NOT use Carbonite.  There is a reason you hear about them all the time, they are hiding a poor design and poor service with a huge marketing budget.

Second, getting the Google Drive content to the CrashPlan backup.   Easy.   Install Google PC Drive.   When you log into Google Drive there is a subtle link in the left sidebar for this app.    It is an program that will be installed on your local computer.   It creates a folder on your computer which is the “local sync” for the Google Drive content.  You can select which folder you want to keep in sync.   I just let it do the whole thing since I have plenty of space on the 1TB drive in my notebook computer.

Now I have a local copy (first stage backup) of everything on Google Drive.   Even better, if I create something in that folder OR on Google Drive it will be auto-replicated on both sides.   That makes for a good first stage backup strategy.

Second, since this folder goes under your user directory by default CrashPlan should automatically note the new content and mark it for backup, which it did on my system.  If it does not do this you can manually add the Google sync folder to the backup plan.

crash plan and google drive
crash plan and google drive

Easy.

I like easy.

UPDATE : NO SO EASY….

Henry Houh contact me last week about an issue with this type of backup.     It turns out Crash Plan will not back up ANYTHING by default when using this configuration.  Why?    Crash Plan runs as the user “SYSTEM” not as your normal login user.     Google Drive runs as you.

In my case the Google Drive folder was created with “Full Control” permission for me but NO permissions for the system user “System”.

The fix?

Go to the Google Drive folder, not the shortcut.

Right-click and select properties.

Select the security tab.

Click the Edit button.

google drive properties

Type “System” in the add user box.

Click “Check Names”.

Click OK.

Click on System in the list of users.

Check off “Full Control” under the allow column.

Click OK.

Click OK.

google drive with system properties

Now your Google Drive content will be backed up to Crash Plan.

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Google Drive – Did They Hear Me?

A few weeks ago I was on my Google Drive and organizing stuff from several project, prospective business ventures, and my WordPress plugins.  I have a half-dozen “things” going on these days and need to keep my notes, spreadsheets, flow diagrams, and other materials organized.    I created folders and moved stuff around.    To make it even easier to find things I assigned a color code to each folder as visual clues make for faster navigation once you train yourself on things like colors and shapes.  This is why good icon design is paramount, given mobile desktop UX that proliferates our lives thees days.

However, at Google Drive I noticed that the colors I assigned to various project folders only shows up as a colored box on the drop down menus as well as a few other discrete places.   I decided to drop Google a note via the web feedback form.    “Hey Google.  Why don’t you color code the FOLDERS themselves instead of keeping them all gray?   Should be easy enough to do.  You obviously are passing color code data to the UX already.”.   Something to that effect.

I never got a response, but today when I went to my Google Drive I saw EXACTLY what I had requested as part of the updated UX.

google drive colored folders
google drive colored folders

Unfortunately Google never responded to my suggestion other than their typical bot responder.   Did they look at my suggestion and send it to a developer that said “Great idea, that will take 2-seconds to put in place” and baked it into the experience?  Or did they already have this planned for months?  Approved by committee  and a band of meetings to to a UX review analysis and full UX studies?    I’d like to think Google is still able to operate in an Agile fashion, fast & nimble and responding to input quickly.    Or have they become a typical corporate giant where it takes a year to get even a single pixel moved after design, analysis, re-design, and several board meetings before anything happens?

I’m not sure if my request and the 3-weeks to seeing it go live was just a coincidence.  Probably.   But I’ll fool myself into thinking that maybe I was the 10th request they got this month for that feature and some dev just “threw it in there”.   If only Google would communicate with the user base, or even just the paid business apps accounts (yeah, I pay for gMail… I know, right?), and give us some clue that someone is listening.  Whenever I communicate with Google I hear the “on hold music” playing  in my head.. “Is anybody out there?   Just nod if you can hear me…”  – Pink Floyd.

Regardless, I’m happy that my Google Drive is no longer color blind.   Thank you Google!