Friday, October 27, 2006


An academic friend just lost a bunch of data that wasn't backed up. Don't let this happen to you.

This prompted me to pull this out of my files for another list:

When was the last time you backed up?

Off site?

If backing up isn't something you've done within the last seven days, it's time. If it's been more than a month since you backed up off site, get on it! If you've got a cd burner and an envelope, you can send stuff to relatives or friends from time to time or you can email it to a dummy account at Yahoo or Hotmail or Gmail. Don't wait. I know of at least two case of writers losing a week or so of work - one to fire, one to robbery. However since they both did a regular off-site backup that was all they lost. If they hadn't backed up, goodbye to everything!

I use a USB flash drive that holds all my writing, plus all of the other files that I regularly change plus I email files to a web account on a regular basis. I back my writing up daily and I keep the drive with my wallet and phone. If I leave the house, so does it. So, complete a story? email it to a friend or web account. Ditto for a novel. Every couple of months I also burn a session on my backup cds and swap them for the ones I keep with a relative. It's not much hassle once you get in the habit, and so much easier than starting over.

When was the last time you backed up?


Sean M. Murphy said...

Also use a USB flash drive, which is duplicately stored on my private section of my work computer. I update the files in question every time I revise them, and store new ones both on my computer and the flash drive.

It is good to note, though, that after a certain number of years and transfers from computer to computer, electronic files do get corrupted, so having someone else who has versions is also a good thing. I recently found that all of my version of a particular story--DOC, RTF, and PDF--were corrupted beyond recovery, and I had no hard copies from which to retype the piece. Thankfully, I had sent copies of it to others, and someone was able to send it back to me.

That wasn't true of a novel that I had started about eight years ago. I was about 35,000 words in when my computer burned out, destroying the motherboard and hard drive when a battery burst inside it and started an electrical fire. Poof, no more novel. I couldn't bring myself to rewrite all of that, so I moved on, but if I'd had a backup of some sort, it would have been a minor setback, instead of the loss of months of work.

Mari Adkins said...

I lost everything on my spare hard drive back in September. My computer guru who's usually able to recover my stuff when I crash wasn't able to save one file - the whole thing was a loss.

I lost pictures of my kids, my cat, my husband. I lost all of my Apex Digest files, all of my writing, all of my notes. I've been in a real tizzy trying to get everything back.

Luckily, I had my third book in a printout and have been taking the last week typing it all back in. The sad thing about that is that I've lost several scenes, as I didn't have printouts of those. I remember some of what needs to be rewritten, but what I've redone so far just isn't coming out the same. :(

The real (word I can't say here) about the whole thing is that I backup everything personal once a week onto cd. Come to find out, my last backup didn't take because the burner had gone bad on me. :headdesk:

So now I've lost a hard drive and a cd-rw. For Yule this year, I'm buying myself a dvd-rw and a new motherboard...

Mari Adkins said...

Also use a USB flash drive, which is duplicately stored on my private section of my work computer.

Thing about those, though, is that they do wear out over time. My guru's been through five this last year. :eye roll:

Naomi said...

Back when I was in college, I heard Maxine Hong Kingston read an excerpt from her book, "The Fifth Book of Peace," where she described the destruction of the previous version of the book manuscript in the fires that swept through Oakland in the early 1990s. Her house was completely destroyed; literally nothing was left. I took this story to heart and have made off-site backups of creative work ever since.

I e-mail everything to my father, who backs it up to his own hard drive (which he then backs up religiously to tape or CD-ROM or something).

When my mother was dissertating, she had printouts of everything plus a backup on a floppy disk or maybe tape (this was in the late 1980s) plus they put a new printout plus extra disk backup into their safety deposit box every week.