Monday, November 3

When Was the Last Time You Backed Up Your Writing?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It's that time of year again, when many of us are carting our laptops around and writing in strange places--be it for NaNo Write Ins, or traveling to see family over the holidays, or sneaking out of the house while family is visiting to get some work done.

With all this mobilizing, the odds of a backpack slipping off a shoulder or chair go up. All it takes is one unexpected moment for damage to befall that computer we love so much. If that damage prevents us from retrieving thousands of words of our writing? Oh, the horror.

If you don't have a reliable backup system in place, take a few minutes today to set something up. There are plenty of free online options (I'm a big fan of Dropbox), but even a USB drive that you copy files over to after each session can save your bacon if the worst happens.

It's also not a bad idea to swap copies of your work with a writing buddy via email a few times a year. That way there's a copy of your work offsite in case of disaster. This is especially handy for older work we don't always back up regularly. Sure, maybe you haven't touched that novel in over a year, but it would probably break your heart to lose it.

Here's a more detail discussion of backups and potential options. If you have options you like, please share in the comments.

Thus ends my public service announcement for the day.


Looking for tips on planning and writing your novel? Check out my book Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a series of self-guided workshops that help you turn your idea into a novel. It's also a great guide for revisions! 

Janice Hardy is the founder of Fiction University, and the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, where she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, (Picked as one of the 10 Books All Young Georgians Should Read, 2014) Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The first book in her Foundations of Fiction series, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure is out now.

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12 comments:

  1. As a long time writer who has lost work to computer meltdowns over the years, I know the heartbreak of not being able to rescue all that precious work. So now, I save every chapter each day to OneDrive, which works seamlessly with Word, and an external portable hard drive that stays plugged into my PC at all times and can hold not just my manuscript but any research or other materials I need. Once a week, I copy everything to Dropbox and my little USB drive that has almost enough memory to back up my entire computer. It's a little bit overboard but after a couple of bad "burns," I just want to make sure I never feel that pain again!

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    1. Smart. All it takes in one bad experience to make someone a little obsessive about this. I've had several catastrophic failures over the years--never fun.

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  2. I make a full back up of all my work before I shut down the computer for the night, Then I place them on two flash drives and two cloud drives. I'm not taking any chances :D

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  3. I use SugarSync to back up my work and it's been fantastic. I choose which folders I want it to backup (no special folder needed so I can keep my saving structure as is) and it automatically syncs any file in those folders with the SugarSync cloud. I'm able to get to those files via the web or I can sync my folders across multiple machines so I can work on documents on my laptop or my desktop and always have the most recent copy available. Best of all, I don't have to remember to copy a file to another folder or remember to run any software. It saves as I save. I love it. :)

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    1. I love the auto sync functions of backup programs. Convenient and a good way to keep the files safe.

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  4. I always back up my work on a flash drive. Each chapter as I finish it. And sometimes even just halfway through. Not taking any chances.

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    1. Good plan. Don't forget to backup that flash drive once in a while, too :)

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  5. dropbox is all i use now. used to save to flash drives, but dropbox is very easy (set up my scrivener project folder inside my desktop's dropbox folder and it syncs every time it is opened, be it from my laptop or desktop).

    google drive i've used for a few other projects, and it is nice (particularly when collaborating with other people), but i mostly just use dropbox now.

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    1. That's the same setup I use. As long as you give it time to sync up it works great.

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  6. Janice, this is amazing advice. A few months ago my laptop crashed. Thankfully I'd previously uploaded my full manuscripts to iCloud. However, I did lose a lot of little documents. Now I use Carbonite on both our desktop and my laptop. It automatically backs up my files whenever I go online. Boy, I wish I would've done that earlier!

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    1. It's so easy to forget or let slide. My husband reminds me all the time and I still slack off from time to time.

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