Monday, May 27, 2013

Good Writers' Habits: Make Backups

One irrefutable fact: you don't backup enough.

If you think manuscript01.doc and manuscript02.doc saved in the same folder is enough of a backup then you're in for a world of hurt. If you think multiple files saved in separate folders is enough, you're still going to get a taste of pain.

Computers house fickle little gremlins who have a nasty habit of deciding to cause crashes at the worst possible times. Keeping your manuscript on your computer, with no other copies anywhere else, is a huge mistake.

Not only can your computer suddenly fry, but something could happen to your house (heaven forbid), so store your work somewhere completely different.

  • USB storage devices are clever but easy to lose
  • CDs and DVDs aren't as durable or reliable as you think.
  • Printing is durable as long as you don't lose the pages to termites, fire, water, pets etc. You get the picture.
  • Dropbox is a free online service.
  • Trusted critique partners are handy.
  • The method I use: a smart IT husband who has set up an automatic backup system on 'the cloud' or whatnot. I don't understand it. It just magically happens.

Bonus tip: keep in mind that when a writing program releases an upgrade, it doesn't necessarily allow backward compatibility for all its previous versions. Always save your old files up to the new version to make sure you don't lose your older work.

You have been warned. Now go make copies of your work.

Have you ever had a bad experience where you've lost a portion or all of your manuscript? How do you protect your work?



A big THANK YOU to Alex J Cavanaugh. I received his awesome YOU ROCK award. This, and the kind words he said, made me very happy.

77 comments:

  1. Yes I had a terrible experience when I had no computer and kept my files on one flash drive. When an accident caused that flash drive to break. It was a disaster. I was able to get some of my files back and the oldest were on the family computer but it still set me back.

    My files are backed up better now and it's good that you posted this so others can know the dangers of losing your hard work.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Lynda

    I've come on over from Alex's blog. You're so very correct about Dropbox. I hadn't thought to back up my writing there but will do so immediately.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is something I keep meaning to do...and keep putting off. Must dive into dropbox and get it sorted. Will regret it otherwise!
    Do you know if Scrivener files can be saved in Dropbox?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't use Scrivener so I don't know, but I can't see why not.

      Delete
  4. I back up in various places but I don't do it often enough. An automated system sounds like what I need. Do you rent your husband out?

    mood
    Moody Writing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps we should discuss this over a chocolate cake? ;)

      Delete
    2. and do you deliver him internationally? :)

      Delete
    3. If the chocolate cake is big enough...

      Delete
  5. That award was very well deserved!
    External hard drives - most reliable and safest. We have several in our house and I back up all of my files at least once a week. (Plus we have multiple computers in the house and they act as backup as well. And I use a thumb drive daily if I'm working on a manuscript.) The nice thing about externals is they are big enough to hold everything on your computer, so if you have to defrag and reinstall, every file is saved and can be transferred back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recently lost everything I put on a backup. Good thing it was only a backup and I had other backups, but it's a good reminder.

      Delete
  6. Gorgeosu Lynda!! you totally ROCK!! My usb stick is my bestest back up pal on this planet!! Thank goodness for them!! Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GORGEOUS!! It's Monday and I can't spell! LOL!
      x

      Delete
  7. I back up multiple times on a USB drive every time I sit down to write. I send out copies of the entire ms to friends and I back up to stored USBs once a project is more or less wrapped up. I'm almost compulsive ...

    ReplyDelete
  8. I once lost stuff that I had been collecting for almost 6 years. Hard lesson learnt. I am a system and network administrator, so I should have known better. Now I make lots of backups everywhere - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive,Kleii, Box, CX, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, one of the hardest lessons too. Yikes! Six years worth of stuff! That must've hurt.

      Delete
  9. Good advice! Thanks for the reminder. I need to check out Dropbox.

    Congrats on the award! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. When I translate I usually copy the work onto a rewritable disk at least once a week. My Word is adjusted to automatically save what I wrote every minute, but I did have times when a sudden powercut in the house would end with me losing a page or two of what I wrote because I sometimes type fast and computers sometimes lose things during sudden shut downs :( These things creep me out seriously.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I learnt to save regularly when I used to work in animation at a company that was just starting out. In the early days there, the building I worked in was an old crappy place and in winter, with all the extra personal heaters plugged in, we often lost power! Hahahahaha!

      Delete
    2. speaking of animation, I think you missed the wonderful spotlight I had on KHUMBA animated film two Sundays ago. It also included my world exclusive interview with the director of the film from Triggerfish studios, also known as South African Pixar :)

      Delete
    3. gah!!!! I try not to be on the computer on the weekends. It's good to get away. Unfortunately that means missing some of your fantastic spotlights :(

      Delete
  11. Yep, I always copy my stuff onto thumb drives, email them to myself, have multiple folders and save them on separate computers.

    ReplyDelete
  12. ugh...yes, lost quite a bit in a hard drive crash...not a good time at all...and def back up frequently now....

    ReplyDelete
  13. I use Dropbox which is free and Carbonite, which costs $60 / year. I'm a bit paranoid after the fire. I still can't believe I left the house with Patches (my Boston terrier)but no purse, no computer, hell, I wasn't even wearing a bra! :)

    So yeah, back up in the cloud is the only solution when you're that panicked! The other weird fact, the computer, my 'desk' was directly above the fire. Whew! I was lucky!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes! You were very lucky! When it comes down to it, all that other stuff you left behind was ultimately replaceable, but Patches wasn't. Not a great way to learn the lesson to backup, though.

      Delete
  14. Backing up is so important. I don't do it enough. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Such a true and ominous lesson!

    I've got backups coming out of my ears but it's still never enough.

    Jai

    ReplyDelete
  16. I can't believe you're writing this today -- sitting right beside me is my portable hard drive because I just realized yesterday that I hadn't backed up in a while. I'm gonna back up as soon as I submit this comment! lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must be psychic ;)
      You did do that backup, right????

      Delete
  17. This is one of those things that I think only happens once to someone before they become obsessive :) I have three different places I back up, after losing everything once!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post! I know so many people that have lost their manuscripts because they don't backup. I have mine saved on three different devices and then emailed.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I use dropbox. It's saved my bacon lots of times!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I suffered the horror of losing files so many times that I don't rely on my computer alone anymore. I use an external drive. I still don't understand very well how the cloud works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need a husband like mine. That way you don't need to understand how the cloud works ;)

      Delete
  21. Great post Lynda. I know an author who relied on her flash drive, when she came to download it onto Amazon, the flash drive crashed as it was too full! Luckily her techo husband was able to retrieve it after lots of jiggling.
    I have my files everywhere, but all under the same roof. Maybe I'd better keep a flash drive somewhere else!

    ReplyDelete
  22. In the days of my family's first computer, our dear little 152K Mac, I lost a couple of files, either because they suddenly would no longer open or they just got deleted. Earlier, I also lost something because I hadn't saved soon enough. For the last 20 years, I've literally, and I really do mean literally, save like every 30-60 seconds! I've got everything backed up on disks and my relatively new flash drive. E-mailing oneself the files is also a spiffy idea.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Luckily this hasn't happened to me yet... i do regular backups to USB, but I could always do more... good post.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm backing up RIGHT NOW! Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  25. So very true! Congrats Lynda on being a recipient of Alex's, "You Rock" award!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I do use Dropbox and email the files to myself. Hard drives and sticks aren't always trustworthy long term. It's always scary to think about!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'd LUV to learn more about your hubby's solution about an automatic backup to the cloud. I don't understand any of that either. :(

    I have lost material in the past. Must stop there; can't relive the horror.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hubby promises me he'll write up something which will have a little more detail

      Delete
  28. I've not an issue, but appreciate your post; as it reminded me about dropbox which I meant to check out long ago and forgot. Good advice.
    May Challenge

    ReplyDelete
  29. YES! I use MozyHome, which is like Dropbox. I don't understand any of it either and cross my fingers. :) Once I got the blue screen of death with my computer and lost everything! It was before I started writing but a valuable lesson.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I send mine to Yahoo email box as well as back up on disc. I am not sure I trust an online thing--is it good?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. some online places are brilliant, but you need to do your research. Hubby does all that for me :)

      Delete
  31. I've heard too many horror stories. I back up onto a external drive AND I use Cubby - a new service that I feel has much better security that Dropbox.

    ReplyDelete
  32. You DO rock! Congrats!

    I save to a file on my desktop. I backup daily to a gmail account I use just for this purpose. And I backup weekly to a flash drive. Every once in a while if I'm feeling particularly vulnerable or paranoid, I email a copy to my sister.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I think I might need to borrow your IT savvy husband. Thanks for the post, we never know we need a back-up until all of the work is gone.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Great post Lynda. I use a Flash drive and an external harddrive. And I also email files to myself.

    Nas

    ReplyDelete
  35. Such words of wisdom, Lynda. Since I almost lost my ms one day when my computer decided to malfunction!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Very good advice. Of course, being an IT guy myself, I back-up my backed-up backups redundantly, compulsively and obsess about it incessantly. My mss are everywhere, 3 PCs, 2 laptops and one tablet--just at home! Then there are the backups at work, the two thumb drives, Dropbox, Google Drive and two external hard drives. Oh yeah, there's a paper copy around here someplace too! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can never be too sure! (and yep, you sound just like my hubby hehehe)

      Delete
  37. Ugh..I did have a virus last year, but as I had saved everything just a few days before I was safe, but I lost a few pictures. Need to make copies again. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am so very paranoid about this happening. I use a USB stick every day, copy on multiple computers, print outs, and send myself copies in email. I sleep with the USB key on my night table, thinking I'd grab it if there were a fire and throw it out the window. Of course I'd probably end up going after my cats first so have to come up with a different plan. Funny enough, sometimes when I'm handwriting, my fingers automatically press down on the notebook as if I'm actually hitting ctrl + s! That's how paranoid I am! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  39. I tend to email copes of my work to my husband and myself, on top of the regular stuff; just an added piece of mind. Until someone hacks into your email I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I pray that never happens to me Linda! It's always great to become more knowledgeable so thank you for the information!
    I keep a copy of everyone of my websites in a book and I use a flask drive as my back up system. That has been working out very well for me. Thanks for the info.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Alex is right--you do rock, Lynda!

    There are so many horror stories about losing files, Lynda. I have a backup machine in my house that pulls from my computer twice a day. I email betas pretty regularly to edit once I have a rough draft done. I used to be obsessive about emailing rough drafts to myself as I went along. I haven't done that in a while.

    ... Off to do that now...

    ReplyDelete
  42. Good advice on having your manuscript files backed up! Congratulations on the award from Alex. It's well-deserved!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hi, Lynda,
    I've lost information from 3-4 thumb drives, so I hardly use them anymore. Dropbox is wonderful and allows me to retrieve my work anywhere. Other than pictures, etc. I don't save most documents to my pc anymore. Flipdrive is the place I store files that I unloaded off my thumb drives.

    Congrats on the award from Alex.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Such a nightmare! I've been burnt before. I had a USB stick get corrupted and lost work, because I'd just got a new laptop and hadn't yet saved it anywhere else. Now, like Joy, I rely on Dropbox. Emailing is something I forget to do. Again, I've been hacked, so I wouldn't rely on that... it is a thorny problem!

    Congrats on the award!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I've lost many a blogpost or portion of one thanks to power outages or other stupid things.

    I fume for a bit, and just rewrite the damn thing. I've also stopped trusting Wordpress' "auto-save" function for this reason. At least Word has an emergency save function.

    ReplyDelete
  46. When I started out, most of my writing time was at school, so I already had things on a USB and would then make a copy of them on my computer at home. And luckily. I have lost my USB before and had to buy a new one. And I have had computer crashes, leaving me with only the copy on my USB. So far, it's been good, though I have been meaning to look into some sort of online storage. Definitely a good tip for writers out there!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Congrats on your award!

    And your are so right. I email myself what I've been working on--to two accounts. I'm kind of paranoid that way.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Groan, yes, I really need to backup more. I HATE doing it though. I do email myself my mss in true paranoid fashion, but that's only my current projects. I'm not hep on Dropbox...don't like it having access to my computer. Just feels wrong. LOL At one point the hubbs saved a copy of everything we have on an external hard drive. I guess it still exists. ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Only when I was writing my PhD, Lynda... But that's such a long time ago.... All we had back then were floppy disks and I kept sitting on them or erasing the wrong files or replacing them with the wrong one. It was almost as if I wanted it to happen.

    Thumbs up for the husband!

    ReplyDelete
  50. I put a lot of stuff on Gdocs and on memory sticks:)

    ReplyDelete
  51. Once I was working on a MS, I got to 50,000+ words with it. I saved it, and I thought I backed it up. But something must've happened right before I saved it because later on, when I looked at the back-up file, I saw that less than half my MS had been saved! I believe I'd also emailed a copy of my MS to myself as I was going along, and that was how I recovered my MS. That was really really scary!!!

    ReplyDelete
  52. You certainly rock Lynda! And so does your hubby!
    I've heard a lot about Dropbox.
    Writer In Transit

    ReplyDelete
  53. I took your really good advice, Lynda. Thanks.

    I've moved my main story over to Dropbox as the most critical to back up and will copy all my other work over during this week.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Good advice, Lynda! I backup my work on a couple flash drives and my desktop computer (in addition to my laptop), but I like the idea of storing it outside of my home. Dropbox may be the way to go.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Congrats on the award.

    I use memory sticks to back my work up. I've never lost any work before. On purpose I threw out some old WIPs on diskettes that I could've transferred to Word, but didn't want to.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Thanks for the advice. My laptop almost bit it the the day. Yes, I did almost have a heart attack. I manged to bring it back to life--the computer, I mean.

    Such a close call I back up regularly now. Lesson learned.

    Anna from "Shout with Emaginette"

    ReplyDelete
  57. I do regular backups. But a long time ago I did them intermittently and well the power flicker off and on two times I think before it went out all together. Surge protector or not it fried my computer. So, yes I whole-heartily concur with frequent backups.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Congrats on the award! And thanks for reminding us about the importance of backing up. I actually don't store anything in the computer--I mostly have everything in a portable hard drive which I carry with me everyday.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. Talk about gremlins! My computer and external back-up hard drive went south within about 3 hours of each other. I paid about $350 dollars to a tech to try and recover my stuff. He only got about 25% of what was on both hard drives. Most of that was photos. I was devastated.

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.