3 Tips to Protect Your Writing from Computer Crashes

I got a panicked text message from a VIP client this week: her computer had “lost” 20 pages of her manuscript.

Let me say that again:

Twenty pages of her book… gone.

Having a panic attack? Us too!

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 $72/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.

And a bonus tip for you:


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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