No. No. I’m not talking about your ample backsides…although if you enjoy that kind of thing, please, be my guest. I’m talking about backing up your precious, all consuming, seemingly never ending, writing endeavors.
Let’s paint a not so pretty scenario, shall we? Let’s say one evening you’re working on some edits for your almost ready to publish novel. You smile as you make the changes knowing that they will make your characters seem more believable and add credibility to your story. You save your changes in Word, or whatever other processing program you use, and you close the laptop lid for the night. When you wake the following morning, you’re anxious to start your day; check some email, tweet, post something on Facebook. When you open the laptop, you’re face with a completely black screen and some flashing lights. No it’s not in sleep mode. No it’s not a result of built up static. No the battery and/or power supply isn’t broken. It’s the laptop itself. Suddenly it has become a very expensive paperweight. A prison for all your important information, images, bookmarks, etc. Now would be the time where you might bust into tears. Perhaps you consider lobbing the dammed thing across the room to see how many pretty pieces you can break it into. Maybe you plan a coup on your local HP building demanding a replacement, a refund, all your priceless data back. Maybe you just accept defeat and start browsing for a new piece of overpriced equipment while mourning the loss of hours of your life, work and creativity.
While you can’t always predict when electronics will have an all out meltdown, the loss of your data and hard work is preventable. There are several options to backing up your work. Most word processing programs will back up as you write, but that’s only good if your computer freezes or spontaneously reboots (it happens). To back up your work long term, you can use outside sources like flash drives, CDs/DVDs or an external drive. These are all good choices so long as you know where you put the drive or the disc and that nothing happens to those. If you’re like me and electronics seem to hate you, you should also look for other options. I had a large external drive where I stored all my stuff and then the USB port broke a pin and I was screwed. It prompted me to look for other options.
Storing your work online is handy for more than reason. Firstly, depending on where you save it, you should be able to access it from any computer with internet access. Secondly, you don’t have worry about losing anything (except maybe a password) and someone else is maintaining it for you.
If you opt for online storage (and I actually recommend using more than one of these backup ideas, better safe than sorry), you can use a site like Drop Box which holds a looooot of data, even with their free version. I would recommend a place like that if you have a lot of mixed media to store; music, photos, documents, etc. If you’re looking to just save your manuscripts, I recommend emailing them to yourself. Use the title in your subject bar for easy searching later on. Luckily I had emailed several of my manuscripts to other people for beta reading so I had copies of everything in my email. Gmail, which is a free internet email program, has tons of storage so I rarely empty trash or sent mail so all my stuff hangs around for such an occasion.
There are other options out there as well if you do a little searching. Again I recommend using more than one back up method and try to remember to do it on a somewhat frequent basis. You can even use calendar programs to pop up reminders if you’re apt to forget.
Be smart and save yourself the heartache by backing up your work. Do it today people! You’ll thank me later if you have an issue. Get on it!