This question was asked by Holly Doherty in the Finally Write Your Book Facebook group:
How often do you print a hard copy backup of your book? (I do an external hard drive backup about once a month) For context, I write almost every day, and add it to my Word doc 3-4x/week, so I’m adding content consistently.
Great question Holly! And GREAT to be thinking of backups.
Here’s a personal story for you…
When I was graduating from the University of Arizona – getting my degree (with honors) in Creative Writing – I had to write and submit a thesis. 270 pages of all original writing: poems, stories, plays, and an essay. It was the culmination of a year’s worth of creative work – and was the piece of writing that had to be completed and turned in so I could graduate, and graduate with honors.
That was the semester that my computer decided to be a Pain In The A$$. At Thanksgiving, I asked my dad to bring me a new one. I spent nearly the entire holiday weekend setting up programs, transferring files, and working on my thesis – it was due the next week. I missed out on making tamales with my family (our Black Friday tradition), I missed out on the U of A/ASU football game, I missed out on a precious weekend with my grandparents, great aunt and uncle, and my folks.
I had a deadline.
Then, Monday morning, when I was working on the thesis before class…
I threw myself on the floor, convinced that somebody had just done a drive by on my aunt’s house. (It wasn’t a sketchy area of Tucson AT ALL but DAMN! it sure sounded like a gunshot!)
After my heart stopped pounding and I could hear again, I heard… nothing. An eerie silence that could only mean one thing.
The computer was dead.
No, it hadn’t been a drive by. It had been my power supply EXPLODING in the computer tower. For the next few days I was FRANTIC to save it – Dad overnighted me a new power supply and I shredded my fingertips trying to change it out. (Melted plastic – yuck!) Then I put my computer on the Tucson/Phoenix shuttle where my dad picked it up at the airport to take it back to the computer shop. (This was long before the Geek Squad!)How often should you back up your writing? Click To Tweet
100% dead. All files irretrievable.
All my work (and the time away from my family) gone.
Thankfully, thankfully, I had emailed my advisor a draft copy at the beginning of the weekend. I had to admit all my work was gone and ask her to email a copy of the thesis back to me. Thankfully, she could!
BTW: this was before a copy of emails was automatically put into a “sent” folder and saved! All sent emails were deleted after 24 hours.
After SEVERAL long nights, I was able to re-create the thesis and get it turned in on time.
Then, just last week, Ben put his laptop on the floor next to his chair. Like he does a thousand times – like I’ve done myself with my laptop. But then, Rocky squeezed between Ben’s chair and the couch… knocking a full glass of water INTO Ben’s laptop.
My heart stopped. It was the thesis all over again.
Thankfully, computer tech has come a LONG way and nothing was fried – a week of drying out (thank you Arizona for having ZERO humidity) and the computer works again.
So, here’s the moral of the story:
BACK UP YOUR WORK.
Please, whatever you do:
BACK IT UP! (And verify that the backups WORK!)
Don’t rely on a tech guru to be able to restore a hard drive or retrieve data. Be proactive and make it happen.
I’ve seen the advice to email it to yourself every night. And that will work in a pinch – but only IF you remember to do it. That’s why I use personally Carbonite – because it’s automatic.
And (because I’m a bit obsessed!) I verify weekly that the files ARE being backed up. Anything that is SUPER important – the type of stuff that would be disastrous to lose, I double back that up with an external hard drive AND the cloud-based system. (Or print it, depending on what it is!)
To make life easy – those are some affiliate links to help you get started with your own backup process!
And leave me a comment and tell me how YOU protect your work!
P.S. Backup or back-up is the noun, back up is the verb!