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Three Things You Must Do Now Because They’re Cool and They’re Free

So over the last few years, I’ve really embraced technology and social media. I love the tools that have been made available, I love the platform these tools have created, and I love being on the cutting edge of change. But there are a few things that I’ve come across over the last couple months that I feel strongly about, and I’m going to share them.

Note: Every website/service that I mention has no monetary cost to the user.

Put the Internet to work for you

IFTTT (IF This Then That) is the most useful site for anyone who uses the Internet often. The site uses the APIs of websites and web tools you already use (or should be using) to make tasks happen. IFTTT has 50 channels right now, so a lot is possible.

Here’s an example: I have connected my Facebook and Evernote accounts with IFTTT. I have a “recipe” in IFTTT that says IF I post something on Facebook (THIS), THEN save a copy in my Evernote (THAT). I have the same thing setup for my Twitter account.

But it gets better.

I have my cell phone connected to IFTTT, so I get a text message whenever the forecast says it’s about to rain soon. I have also been getting text messages anytime a U.S. athlete wins a medal in the Olympics. And, whenever someone posts an Apple product for free on Craigslist, I get another text message.

My favorite recipe has my Foursquare account connected to my Google Calendar. Anytime I check in to a place on Foursquare, it creates an event on my Google Calendar, so I have a running history of the places I’ve been to.

So. Freaking. Sweet.

Archive your social account data

Did you know that Twitter only saves your last 3,200 tweets? After that, they disappear. (Or should I say, “fly away?”)

You probably know that Facebook saves all of your information, but did you know you can ask them to send you everything associated with your profile since October 2009?

As a writer, I hate the idea of losing anything I’ve written, and most people tend to agree.

There are a few places you need to go to get your account data:

  • twDocs — Export almost anything from Twitter into a series of different file types.
  • Facebook Archive — Because nothing is more tragic than losing your precious Facebook information.
  • Google Takeout — A Google product that exports all of your Google account information (Google+, Voice, Drive, etc.).

 Get in the cloud

The cloud is a magical place of storage for your computer files, and it’s wonderful because it lives out in the ether (aka a company’s servers) rather than your computer. This makes transporting files simple. At my work, cloud services have almost completely replaced the use of thumb drives.

But, as I’ve learned the hard way, cloud services are best used to back up your important files. I’ve lost files from my last two computers crapping out on me. (Yes, “crapping out” is a technical term.) <cheesy grin>Never again thanks to the cloud.</cheesy grin>

The best news is that, even if you haven’t clearly signed up for a cloud service, there’s a great chance you already have one. Do you have an Amazon account? Then you have five gigs available on their cloud drive. Do you use Google Docs? Then you have a five gigs available in your Google Drive.

There are plenty more cloud services available, but the two I use the most are Dropbox and Box. Dropbox is nice because it puts a folder on your computer that automatically syncs to the cloud, plus it makes sharing files with others very easy. Sharing on Box is just as good, but its interface is web based so you upload files through their website. Box’s best features are the ability to track versions of files and the ability to edit some documents while on their website (similar to Google Docs).

Are you ready to have your mind blown a bit? Because Dropbox and Box are both channels on IFTTT, so you can backup your Facebook photos, Instagram pictures, emails, blog posts, YouTube favorites, and so on.

Now only if I could get IFTTT to backup my social accounts and upload them to the cloud. (If I figure this out, I will let you know.)