WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK:
- Always back up twice.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about novels being lost. The file gets corrupted, the hard drive fails, or a bitter sibling or ex-lover deletes the files out of spite. These things happen. Not only to they happen, but they happen with alarming regularity.
Computers can be lost in fires or floods, computers can be stolen, and computers can need a complete wipe after a viral attack.
With any of these unfortunate events, your stories can be lost. All the beautiful, fragile, heartfelt words that you breathed life into can be lost and swept away forever. Please don’t think I am exaggerating that I say at least 50%, if not more, of my writing friends have lost words due to an error or accident. Usually they don’t lose ALL their words; sometimes they don’t even lose an entire novel. However words are lost.
I always recommend having two backup systems, though which two you choose is up to you. Here are some more popular ways to protect and back up your creations:
- An external hard drive
PROS: Can be stored in a fire proof safe. Can hold large files.
CONS: Hard drives can get viruses and fail, just like computers. You might lose everything on them if you drop them.
- Burnt onto a CD
PROS: Old CDs can be disposed or stored. I carry my CD with me, so if I lose the house, I have my writing. CDs are cheap and easy to write on.
CONS: CDs can be lost, scratched or broken. Not the most environmentally friendly choice.
- Emailed to yourself
PROS: Nothing physical to be lost or broken. Most addresses can be accessed from anywhere. Most emails allow you to create and name folders, so your files can be labelled and stored.
CONS: If you’re hacked, files can be deleted or stolen. A server glitch could still wipe them out. Small file allowances mean you’ll have to send lots of emails. Unless well organised, finding what you want could be a nightmare.
- Drop box
PROS: Drop box will sync across all your computers and devices.
CONS: You have to pay if you want more than 2 gig of storage. You could be hacked, or a server glitch could delete all your files.
- Posted to yourself
PROS: Mostly done in the days before digital storage as a form of copyright protection. Can be stored in crates in the attic.
CONS: Wastes paper, takes up space and no protection from natural disasters.
- USB sticks
PROS: Can be carried with you everywhere. Files can be accessed at any computer.
CONS: USB sticks can die and are easy to lose.
- Hosted on a server
PROS: Can hold large files. Usually very secure.
CONS: May cost money. Servers can crash and be hacked.
The most important thing to remember is, whatever backup method you use, PICK TWO and back up OFTEN. At least once a month. Make the first of every month backup day—write it in your calendar and be sure not to fall behind. Do an extra backup whenever you finish a draft—particularly a first draft.
Perhaps, together, we can make sure no prose is ever lost again.