Once upon a time, there was a writer. This guy (we'll call him Scott) lived in an area where a large storm hit. The wind howled, thunder boomed, and his cable modem crapped out. Big deal, you say? Well it was to him. See, Scott was a hundred pages into his new novel, which was coming along nicely, but he saved his work to a network cloud drive. So when his cable modem crapped out, he could no longer access his work. After a quick and desperate search, Scott realized, to his horror, that he'd neglected to back up his work in another file.
|Pictured: Scott without internet access.|
The story has a good ending… Scott's cable company replaced the modem the next day, and he was back in business, but there is a moral to this story:
BACK UP YOUR WORK
Look, I make my trade in telling stories that terrify. But the one thing that scares me more than (almost) anything is the thought of losing my work. That's months I'll never get back again. Weeks of oreos and alcohol that will need to be replicated. That is also what we writers know by two names: First is "The Big Suck." The second is "Your Own Damned Fault."
Back in the days before computers and printers (I'm not that old, but I do know people who are old enough to remember these days…), a type written thesis or book was treated like gold. Hard copy was something treasured, and to protect it, the "backup" method was to wrap it in plastic wrap (or butcher paper) and place a copy in the freezer. This way, if the house burned down, there was still a chance it would be safe. I wish I were making that part up, but it's true.
So here's my suggestion to you. Three copies (or more) of everything. Here's my current storage solution:
- Working file on the cloud drive - I use "Dropbox" because it's free, and because it allows me to access the same file over multiple devices. iPad, laptop, desktop, work desktop (shhhhhh!), it doesn't matter. I can get to my file wherever I need to.
- Working File on the desktop - My home desktop has a file on it that is title "WIP" for Works In Progress. That's the file I typically open when I'm working on a project (hence the whole "working file" thing). When I'm done working for the night, I put a copy of it into the cloud drive.
- Backup File on USB - Yeah, I'm one of those writers who often carries his entire catalogue of work around with him on a USB drive. They're cheap, they are almost incorruptible (my brother dropped one in a baby bottle full of formula and didn't lose any information), and they're small. When I'm done writing for, say, a week or if I'm traveling, I'll use this file. Let's say, for example, I'm in some jackass hotel that doesn't have wi-fi or wants to charge extra for it. No worries. I have my jump drive. I'll save a copy of what's on my USB drive onto whatever computer I happen to be using, and I'm back in business. The file on the USB is not changed until I'm damned sure I'm done with it for the evening.
It's a transformer! Thumb drive. Whamp whamp whaaaaaaamp!
- E-Mail - Yeah, it's a little paranoid and old-school, but I've also been known to save finished copies of complete manuscripts by e-mailing a copy to myself. I set up a smart folder of where everything funnels in my system.
- The Dark Archive - No, it's not a basement dungeon filled with little goblins who obsessively file my paperwork (I wish!). It's actually a two-part system. One is a second USB drive that only contains finished copies of my work. The second is a burned CD with only the finished copy of my work.
Pictured: The Dark Archive
So that's it. That's my backup scheme. It's a little obsessive, I know, but it's saved my bacon several times. Here's the other thing: You must remain dedicated to it. A backup plan only works if you stick to it. make it part of your daily writing routine.
|Pictured: Smug invulnerability.|
Share your backup plan in the comments!