Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sanity insurance

I don't know if this constitutes writing advice or if it is just plain nagging, but I would like to remind you to back up your work.

Go on.

Do it.

I'll wait.

As far as I'm concerned, remembering to hit Ctrl+S doesn't cut it. Crazy things happen. Laptops get dropped or stolen.

I once knew a man who had his TV blow up in a lightning storm. Granted, most computers have surge protectors, but they aren't fool-proof.

Papers blow away or get eaten by dogs or get shredded by accident (ps - I love shredders. Don't leave me alone with a shredder and any stack of paper you truly love).

Are you feeling paranoid yet? I hope you are, because I am willing to bet you didn't go back up your writing immediately after reading the first sentence of this post. Or you have that feeling of resistance brought on by someone trying to boss you around.

Here are a few backup suggestions:

  • If you live in a household with more than one computer, make a habit of storing updated copies of your work on both (or all seven).
  • Pick up several USB flash drives. I like to keep one at home and one in my purse. Why several? They can have a limited life span, depending on the sort of abuse they go through (Tip: either use the kind with a cap or get a little carrying case if they are retractable - dirt is not your friend).
  • Print out hard copies.
  • Photocopy hand-written copies. Or scan them. Or type them out.
  • Email your files to yourself.
  • Make use of an online file hosting site.
  • Coax an external hard drive into backing up all the files on your computer. I say coax because mine needed a fair amount of coaxing to backup files from both a mac and a PC, but I already know it was worth the effort and we are now fast friends.
  • If you need some excitement in your life, find a way to involve a safe or safety deposit box in the process. I've heard of people keeping printed copies of their manuscripts in the crisper in their fridges.

Making use of any or all of these resources could save you headache, heartache and your computer from being tossed out a window. If you see a method you don't currently use up in this list or down in the comments, I hope you will try something new this week.

Think of it as an insurance policy on your sanity.


Karyn Good said...

The worst thing is I HAVE an external back up thingy and I never use it. The good news is I will now.

I also use a USB flashdrive to save files but I had no idea they had a self life. I do email files to myself, as well, just not often enough!

Thanks for the reminder, Anne!

connie said...

Hi Stephanie

Thanks for the tips. I have a fear of looking for my precious prose and finding: there it was,gone! (old joke)

I like the ideas of emailing files to myself and finding an online filing system.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Steph, I hear you on the backing up ideas. Here's my education story...

- when I decided I wanted to be a serious writer, I bought a used laptop so I wouldn't have to share with the family. I was 3 chapters in when it froze. Had to rewrite those chapters as I didn't know about flash drives back then.

- received my new laptop and made a point of backing up on flash drive, too. But during NaNo 2007, I somehow saved my old stuff vice my new on both my flashdrive and laptop. 4 pages needed to be redone. Rewriting during NaNo is NOT good for the morale.

- Spring 2009, laptop crashed. Everything lost except what was on the my flashdrives. My writing was retrieved, but not the 2000 photos. :( Restored this laptop and forged ahead.

- Several weeks later, bought a mini to write when travelling, waiting for kids, etc. Now ran into problems wondering which eqpt held most current revision. Started using flashdrive as 'the boss'.

- Spring 2010 finally got smart and bought an automatic external hard drive. Only problem as I see it, it needs to be plugged into a USB port for automatic upload and I'm not willing to have it plugged in 24/7 as it only leaves me 2 USB ports.

- Summer 2010 - bought new laptop which is designated 'boss'. Am in the habit of plugging in hard drive weekly. Any time I save and close a file, I save on 'writing' flash drive, too. Any time I write with mini, I save file to laptop at first opportunity.

For some reason, I'm leery about using an online file hosting site. Can you recommend a good one?

Never thought of using a crisper. Thanks. :D

Great post, Steph.

Anita Mae.

connie said...


I hope you don't mind my putting a rider on this

I will be away tomorrow when my blog appears. Please everyone, comment anyway and I will respond Sunday


Jana Richards said...

Hi Stephanie,
I've been down the sad road of having a computer crash and losing a bunch of stuff. I back up my writing on my flashdrive all the time. But I have to admit I've been lax about backing up my laptop and desktop to the external hard drives. For me, it's not just the writing that can be lost, it's also all my email files, my website, my personal accounting program, and my library for my Sony reader.

Okay, now I'd better go back things up. You've inspired me!


Karyn Good said...

Obviously, I'm in lala land as I meant to say, Thanks for the reminder, STEPH!

Stephanie said...

Hey Karyn,

No worries, I figured it was me you were talking to. I also hate my external backup thingy but I make sure to plug the big, dumb thing in once in a while and got it its own special case. I haven't lost any of this manuscript yet, but have had a few frantic nights after losing some school assignments.

Stephanie said...

I like your system Anita, I might have to adopt it. I don't use an online system myself, as I opted to spring for my external hard drive instead.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Great post Connie. Jana - I didn't even consider e readers requiring backup. Computers are the text-book definition of keeping all your eggs in one basket (or at least the best eggs in one basket).