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Ten things a translator needs – number 5

Hitting the half-way point in our series, this blog post deals with the need for a backup strategy. That means ideally not just backing up data but also having a backup computer and an alternative way of getting online.

Losing data is the kind of thing that’s only funny when it happens to someone else, yet a surprising number of people seem very relaxed about backing up their work. Any translator tackling an important job with a tight deadline will want to be sure that if their computer crashes they can continue on another system with virtually no loss of time or data.

Cloud-based working is an obvious solution here, as long as files are suitably encrypted and protected (as IT experts say, there is no cloud, it’s just someone else’s computer). Anyone who remembers using physical backup media and carefully keeping onsite and offsite copies will need little persuading of the benefits of unlimited space and virtually instant availability. Nothing is perfect, however, and online access might be lost due to an outage of some kind, although these days it should be possible to switch more or less seamlessly to the mobile phone network. And of course the online files should also be backed up somewhere, so there is no single point of failure.

Maintaining a full archive of previous jobs is likewise highly desirable in this context, not least because clients sometimes mislay a translation or delete a file by mistake.

Ultimately, it’s about being able to continue working even if something you take completely for granted is suddenly not available or not possible. When we comprehensively updated our own systems about three years ago, one key requirement was that we should be able to continue working normally if access to the office was impossible. We were thinking more of something like a gas leak or major police incident, rather than a pandemic, but that forethought certainly paid off.

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