The sensible campaigner is the campaigner with backups

The office wall in one of my former jobs had a cartoon with two drunks slumped in an alleyway bemoaning their fate. One was saying to the other, “It all started to go wrong when I realised the backups hadn’t been working…” He at least had been trying to use backups.

Sometimes people fear trusting data to computers, worried that a wrong key press may result in valuable information being lost. That is to get things wrong: data is safer on computers because it is much easier to do regular backups. Data stored any other way is difficult to backup; reams of photocopies are no match for the simplicity of a computer backup. If you want your data to be safe, put it on a computer and then do regular, proper backups.

However, even the best of computer systems can go wrong. Trusting your data to the likes of Google or Flickr is a moderately safe bet as both have pretty good records at preserving people’s data. Yet data disasters can and do strike highly reputable web services and when the risks of hacking and human error are thrown in, not to mention the cost of losing data for a critical few days whilst someone else sorts out restoring it, it makes sense to backup your data wherever it is.

For many campaigners that includes backing up emails from Gmail and photos from Flickr. There are two excellent free tools to do just this, which with no cost and not much complexity mean they are an easy and convenient way of being a sensible campaigner. That is, a campaigner with backups.

There’s more about the importance of backups and how to have a sensible system in Chapter 41 of 101 Ways To Win An Election. As that chapter starts: “You can’t stop things going wrong; you can stop them turning into disasters.”

Got any other backup tools to recommend? Post away in the comments…

* Mark Pack is Party President and Co-leader of the party. He is editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner and Online politics.


  • Richard Dean 13th Aug '12 - 4:13pm

    There are other places online like, and cheap places, see eg

    As it happens your book 101 Ways to Win an Election arrived this morning – slowpost. It looks very interesting, and I am already well into it. I hope it sells well and you will soon be writing a 2nd edition, I shall certainly be using it against LibDems and others in my campaign as an Independent in 2015. I thought of three things you might want to consider incorporating into a 2nd edition

    One is GET FIT, physically, mentally, emotionally. A campaign is exhausting – a 26 mile marathon every day for three weeks – and a smoker, drinker, obese person is likely to flag. Fitness would include family, who will be stressed out but need to support, etc. Of course you need a fit organization too, and a fit data management system with backups!

    Next is LOVE YOUR CONSTITUENTS, and get to know all of them. I think you have this in small bits in many places in the book, but not explicitly as one of the 101 ways – perhaps just Way 47?, Liberalism in particular is about celebrating the diversity of people, and like you say on page 30, candidates need to avoid getting trapped inside themselves. Knowing means knowing how and what to communicate – Georgeous George is a great example here, he analysed Bradford West and emphasized different aspects of his campaign in different wards – student issues at the University, NHS isssues somewhere else, etc. He knew the constituents.

    My third suggestion is INSPIRE YOUR CONSTITUENTS. Voters want to take some pride in who represents them, they need to use you as part of the way they fit themselves into the world. I’m not sure whether you have much of this in the 101 ways, maybe there’s a bit in Way 17. but then I’m only on Way 21 (though I did look at Wqy 101 of course, and for the reasons you mention there! ie Way 96).

  • Richard Dean 13th Aug '12 - 4:18pm

    17 -> 47

  • Richard Dean 13th Aug '12 - 4:19pm

    No, 17 = 17 !

  • Richard Dean 13th Aug '12 - 10:38pm

    Well, well, well, Chapter 41 really is VERY VERY interesting. How the stories change in the telling! 🙂

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