Saturday, December 18, 2010

Anticipate the Disaster - Saving Your Work

I hope you'll never be faced with the situation I was. At 9pm on Halloween night, my home burst into flames. I managed to  get the dog out - and that was about it. My laptop, our other two computers, three or four boxes of notes and writing  constituting 30 years of work, study and writing were among the casualties.

We lost every single thing we owned, and I ended up barefoot in the cold mud. Despite the fact that we had no insurance, all our tools and equipment can eventually be replaced. The two things I couldn't replace were my cat and my writing. (Wonderful note - since I began writing this, Squeaky DID return!)

So little wonder that I'm now encouraging you to do everything you can to back up your writing in the event of an emergency. I was fortunate that I had followed at least a few of the suggestions that I will give you, so that even though not all of my writing has been saved, and some of the latest versions will have to be rewritten, I didn't lose everything, after all.

Safety Deposit Boxes

If you're able to afford one (I assume the bank charges a fee) this is perhaps the most secure way of saving your writing. The hassle here is that you'll need to write your stuff to disk on a regular basis and then truck over to your bank to leave a disk there.

Online Hard Drive Space

About a year and a half ago I reformatted my computer. Being paranoid about losing my writing, I found a website that lets you upload to them, and managed to put a small chunk of my writing - the stuff that was most important to me - there.

My newest work wasn't saved, but at least that gave me a basis to start from, once again.

The most challenging part of this, is that when you lose your computer, you also lose your bookmarks. I didn't remember what site I'd used. I got lucky. I did a Google search for "free hard drive" or something like that, and the second site I went to was the right one. Fortunately I was able to guess the login and password.

Not all of these sites are free, and not every one has a lot of space available, but do some searching and you should be able to find one or two that suit your budget and your space needs. I highly recommend keeping an extra copy of the URL and the login and password in your car, at a parents house or somewhere else where you can find it in an emergency.

Keep Disks in Your Car

Back up your writing to disk or flash drive and keep a copy in your vehicle. It's unlikely that your car AND your house are going to burn down or otherwise be destroyed at the same time - unless you store your car inside an attatched garage.

The Buddy System

My mom is a writer and she and I often send our work back and forth to each other. Thanks to this, she had somewhat recent copies of the most important novel I was working on. Not the very latest, but close.

Make an arrangement with a good friend or writing buddy to have them store copies of your writing on their computer. This way if something happens to your data, you can backup from what they have of yours. If they write, or have other important data they need kept safe, you can do the same for them.

Be sure this is someone you trust absolutely and whom you know how to contact if you lose your data. I had another friend that I'd given a copy of my story to read. She had the absolute newest. However just before we moved, her husband ended up screwing us over on a car he'd sold us. Meanwhile I lost her email address and phone number in the fire, and I didn't recall her street address. So I have no way to contact her, and even if I do, there's a chance she won't cooperate.

Be Disciplined

None of these backup methods will work if you don't do it on a regular basis. If I'd kept up with uploading to, I'd still have my story intact. I'm not sure that my mom even HAD the last version of my story, and even if I did, it wasn't her job to save every single file, since I'd never told her to keep them as backups.

I hope you never run into the total loss of your writing files, but if you do, maybe these tips will keep your info safe. Much luck!

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