Imagining the Worst (A Case for Backup)


At one time or another, most of us have lost work. An untimely power surge or outage, a corrupted file, or a failed hard drive can take with it the work of an hour, a week, or even years.

Years back, I suffered a string of hard drive failures that drove home the value of backing up regularly. Since then, I've owned Iomega Zip drives (remember those), burned CDs, and/or saved my works in progress to a flash drive regularly. But then I got to thinking about the wisdom of storing all this data in the same place. I've known writers who have lost their homes to fires and their roofs to hurricanes. I recently read of one whose computer and backup drives were all stolen by an especially thorough thief.

For a while, my ISP (SBC Yahoo) provided an online briefcase, which I used for several years to back up my writing, website, and photos files. It didn't allow for automatic updating, but I was pretty good about manually doing so every few days, and it also helped me move files between the two computers I routinely use. But I recently received word the service was being discontinued, and with my laptop's motherboard failing, I went in search of a new solution.

Joni recommended Carbonite, which offers encrypted, password-protected, automatic online backup of document files. After doing some research, I decided to check it out with a free 15-day trial.

It's working great. The initial upload runs in the background for a day or two and slowing the computer somewhat. But after that, the daily updates (it automatically saves new or modified doc files) run in the background so seamlessly, I don't even notice. And best of all, if I ever come home to find a great, smoking crater where my house used to be, I can recover all of my document files from any computer at my convenience. It's well worth the $50 a year in peace of mind.

I still have stuff to figure out. I don't know if I can add my desktop computer onto the same account, something I'd like to do since I switch between the two so often. And I haven't yet used it for recovery. Still, I thought I'd post this friendly reminder about backup.

Because disasters happen - and not just to other writers.

So what are you using to safeguard your important document files? Are you devout about it, lax about it, or just plain avoidant? Anyone have a different backup solution to share.

Comments

Joni Rodgers said…
Carbonite saved my bacon last month when my mother board and power supply symultaneously combustulated. I have a whole obsessive compulsive array of backup methods. Swamped at the moment, but I'll post links tomorrow.
lark said…
I lost 26 pages of my WIP a couple of weeks ago through sheer stupidity. Just proved nothing is fool-proof for a big enough fool.

Normally I use a stick drive that I back-up semi-regularly to my office (as in day-job) computer and to my netbook at home.

As a low-tech solution, I password & email my WIP to myself (I have a couple email addresses)when I finish writing each session. This wouldn't be a great idea if I was Stephanie Meyer or J. R. Ward or someone else whose fans were dying to read every word I wrote and therefore might hack into my email. It does give me access via the internet to the latest version no matter where I am.
Oh, ouch, Lark. That's rough, but try not to beat up on yourself about it too much. If I had a buck for every regrettable lapse, I'd have Bill Gates' bankroll, or a reasonable facsimile.

I occasionally e-mail myself a manuscript. I've heard of people using Gmail for that purpose since it allows a lot of storage.
I use Gmail. I'm pretty obsessive about emailing myself the latest version at the end of each day. (Or several times over the course of the day, if I'm doing a major revision.)