How to use If This Then That for Ad Hoc Storage and Automation

How to use If This Then That for Ad Hoc Storage and Automation

The news that cloud storage provider Copy is shutting down reminded me of one of my perennial digital to-dos: Ensuring that my files are backed up in more than one cloud service. However, I want to make sure I never have to remember to run backups in multiple locations. I want to set it and forget it.

Enter If This Then That. The web service is basically a cloud-based API that lets you mash together other cloud- or web-based services. If This Then That (IFTTT) is basically a collection of scripts: You tell it what data you want to suck down or log from one web site/service and then specify where that data's going to go or what's going to be done to it. The IFTTT scripts all work on triggers (the "if" part of the equation) and fire off every time you trigger the event.

In the case of automatic backups of my assets, the triggers are fairly simple -- if I upload a new file to Dropbox, then I want that same file copied to my OneDrive account. Or if I upload a new batch of photos to Flicker, then copy those image files to Dropbox.

It's very bare bones backup, but that simple file duplication is the first step in longer-term asset management. Here are some of the ways you can use IFTTT to automate your own archival activities.



"Nothing gold can stay," Robert Frost wrote of the changing seasons. He may as well have been talking about web-based services, many of which are killed or shut down within a few years of starting. This is why I advocate always backing up your digital assets to more than one service.

Here are some of my favorite recipes for ensuring that the things you chuck into storage are not tied exclusively to one service:

Back up your Dropbox files to Box -- This is handy for general backup between storage accounts.

Back up your Dropbox files to Google Drive -- Another handy option for ensuring your files get stashed on two different services.

Back up your Dropbox files to OneDrive -- Yet another way to ensure that you're not cooked if Dropbox decides to shut down under cover of darkness.

Back up your Seagate Personal Cloud data to OneDrive -- Hey, you never know.


Look, we should all have the option to quit social media in a huff without losing years of uploaded photos. Here's how you can use IFTTT to ensure your photos aren't locked into one place at any time.

Upload all Flickr photos to OneDrive -- Hey, you never know when the ax is going to swing at Yahoo. And here are recipes for uploading your Flickr photos to Dropbox and Google Drive.)

Save your Instagram photos to OneDrive -- Why should all those carefully filtered shots live in only one place? And here are recipes for uploading your Instagram photos to Dropbox, Box and Google Drive.

Save your Facebook photos to OneDrive -- If you ever decide to leave social media, you can ensure your #tbt photos go with you. And here are recipes for uploading your Facebook photos to Dropbox, Box and Google Drive.


One of the smartest things I've seen on IFTTT is when vendors offer their own automation recipes. Microsoft's done it, with a line-up of 53 different ways you can integrate the other social media services, your online fun, or your productivity tools with Microsoft's products. 

We will be testing the following Office 365 recipes around the office:

Create a OneNote page to track meeting notes

Save priority emails from Office 365 Mail as pages in OneNote

Send your liked (favorite) tweets to OneNote

Send iPhoto screenshots to OneNote


What are some of your favorite IFTTT recipes for keeping and storing your digital assets? Share them in the comments below.

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