5 Tips to Protect Your Writing from Computer Crashes

In the days or weeks after Thanksgiving, before the calendar flips to December, I always get on my annual soap box of why you need to


Yes, YOU. Nobody is immune!

Why is this my late-November soap box?

Because waaaaay back in 2002, when I was just weeks away from my December graduation date from the University of Arizona, my computer hard drive died.

Not just died… POPPED and then smoked out.

And it ATE my honor’s thesis.

The one I’d JUST spend all Thanksgiving weekend assembling. Hard at work at the computer INSTEAD of hanging out with my family. I missed making tamales, watching the UofA/ASU football game, my trip to the used bookstore, and all the good turkey naps.


That’s why, once a year, I take the time to remind you to take care of your computer system. Here are my top three tips for making sure your machine is in top shape.

1. Invest in an automatic, cloud-based backup
Personally, I use Carbonite. It runs in the background and automatically backs up ALL my files, as they’re updated. Yes, you have to be online for it to work – but there’s nothing you have to remember to actually DO.

And just last week, I accidentally over-rode an image file – a stock image I’d purchased. I might have let a quiet “shit!” slip out – and of COURSE Small Thing was right there and couldn’t WAIT to repeat it for me. But I digress…

With two clicks of my mouse, I was able to restore the “old” file and carry on my day. Whew!

I also love Carbonite because I can ask it to back up my audio and video files. So I know that as I’m creating trainings for my VIP clients, they’re automatically backed up.

For under $100/year, it’s a no-brainer investment. Here’s a link to enroll:

2. Virus software is running and up to date
I’m not a techie expert. And while I don’t purposefully wander into dark corners of the Internet, it doesn’t take much to end up with a download of something really nasty!

Hey, let’s be real here:

You’re looking for a (free) piece of software that will convert a file or build an image, or a fancy font or plugin, you click on the big yellow button that says “DOWNLOAD” and realize, too late, that wasn’t the download for the open-source program but actually something nasty.

So making sure that my virus software is paid for, running, and up to date is something I just verify weekly. (I just check the little status on my computer on Mondays when I’m making my weekly plan.)

I’ve been using Webroot for YEARS and have loved them. It’s around $30/year. Here’s a link to enroll:


3. Emailing yourself a copy of anything important
This is 100% old-school. You just send YOURSELF an email of your manuscript, every time you work on it.

I prefer automated solutions, I really do. But the problem with an automated solution, like Carbonite, is that it has to have TIME to update the file. And if you’ve changed a bunch of files, or save and shut down, the software might not have had an opportunity to do its thing.

Plus, when I’m anxious about losing my work, I like the “Destiny in my own hands” aspect of saving and then emailing.

4. Invest in an external solid state backup drive – and USE it

New to me in 2022 is a USB SSD (Solid State Drive.) This tiny thing was $300 (a MASSIVE savings) when I snapped it up during Prime day. Plug it in, copy over files, be good to go.

It only works if you USE it.

It’s not for backing up and going traveling – like taking my desktop hard drive on the road when I only have my laptop.

It’s a BACKUP.

The pros of a USB SSD is that you can manually back up GIANT files that are too big for Carbonite (looking at YOU Zoom) or of a file type that Carbonite doesn’t automatically back up (video, audio, and many program files.)

And of course, if you don’t USE it (and put it in a safe place) then it doesn’t work.

See the one *I* use on the 2022 Gift Guide For Authors.


When we use laptops, we sometimes just close the lid; assuming that the machine will be exactly the same when we next open it.

And that works… until it doesn’t.

Then the panic sets in.

Been there, done that. Not with MY work (I hate my laptop and always save/backup because it’s not my primary machine) but with Ben’s. He had an old, crappy laptop that would happily open saved files. But if it was a file left open on the desktop when Ben closed the lid…

It was even money if the machine would leave it open. And if it did, it wasn’t always with all the work IN the document.

So take the fifteen seconds and actually SAVE the file. Don’t trust a computer to “know” that this file is important to you.


Leave me a comment and tell me how YOU take care of your computer and your writing.

P.S. Want to read the story of why backups became so important to me? Find it here.

Kim Galloway
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