Unfortunately today’s post comes as a reminder that things happen and that while we can’t prevent terrible things from happening, it never hurts to be prepared.
Over the weekend, my sister’s computer suffered some form of malfunction which wiped an entire folder and several additional files from the hard drive. The folder in question that suffered the most damage was in fact the folder containing all of her writing from the last ten years or so. Some of these were files brought over from previous computers, some of these were stories she’d only just started, or mere ideas she was saving for later.
The very unfortunate part of this is that she does not have back-ups of any of the lost files. The only reason she was able to technically ‘save’ one of the salvaged pieces happened because she’d temporarily stored another copy on a flash drive previously. Everything else existed as a single copy on one computer.
Ten years of writing is gone and lost to whatever crash, malfunction, glitch or other disaster caused them to be deleted in the first place. The lesson here is simple:
Back up your work frequently.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to email yourself a copy. You can either copy and paste the entire text into the body of the email, or attach it and then send it to yourself. This gives you the option to access your writing through the same places you access your email.
Another option might be using a service like Google Drive or even Microsoft’s OneDrive. If you have a gmail account, you already have access to Google Drive which boasts the use of 15 gigs of storage for free. Similarly, if you have a Microsoft account such as through Skype or even for the latest version of windows, you should have access to OneDrive online, which comes with a slimmer 5 gigs of storage. Both of these work with .doc or .docx files and have access to a word processor for those instances where you need both.
Don’t be afraid to use flash (USB) drives and other storage devices. Many of these can be attached to keys or easily stored in a wallet or purse. With a range of sizes and styles to choose from, you can easily find one to suit your needs and budget.
Finally, hard copies are invaluable protection against computer failure. Even in the event of total file loss, having a hard copy means you have something to work off of, even if you end up having to retype your manuscript. If you don’t have your own printer, some libraries offer limited printing, while many office stores also have a copy and print center where you can have everything printed out for a small fee.
Back up your files and if possible, do so in multiple ways. You can’t always prevent a problem, but you can be prepared for it.