Friday, April 22, 2011

Backing Up Your Files


I have a question for you. Do you back-up your files offsite? The other day a writer on one of my loops posted that she had typed eight chapters of her new book when she hit something on her keyboard and the entire manuscript disappeared. Bless her heart she posted on the loop desperately asking if anyone knew how to retrieve her lost material. She received several different suggestions, but to no avail. All that work she’d put into typing the chapters had disappeared.


So, I’ll ask again, how diligent are you about backing up your files? If you’re like me, your intentions are good, but like most writers, I don’t pay enough attention to this vital task.

Although I have my computer programmed to auto-save every five minutes, this isn’t what I’m talking about. It isn’t good enough to back-up files on CDs, DVDs, a flash-drive, or on your server. Sometimes those files become corrupted. What if a thief broke into your house and stole your computer and accessories? What if you dropped your laptop? (Don’t scoff. It happens.) If you live in a hurricane or tornado prone state, what if your house is blown away? Or like a friend whose house burned down while she was attending a writers’ conference?

My point is: you must back-up offsite. The best scenario would be to back-up your files everyday.

There are several ways to do this:

1. If you have a website, most servers give you enough space so you can upload important files to a private section. But you have to do it manually using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program.

2. Carbonite Online Backup, Norton Online Backup and Mozy Pro are examples of websites that offer storage for important files. However, keep in mind these are not free sites. All charge a nominal fee. If you pay the fee, you can set up the transfers to take place automatically every day. I’m not sure if you have the option to manually upload your files. A problem with some of these backup services is what happens to your files if they go out of business?

3. With the economy the way it is, I’m all for cutting corners. This is why I’ve opted to set up a gmail account that I use strictly for emailing files to myself. Besides being able to access my files from any location, it’s also free. The thing is to REMEMBER to send the files to myself. And I’m not talking about just my novels or works in progress, but family photos, and legal documents, too. There is a new site called ‘Dropbox.’ It’s free. Check it out at: www.Dropbox.com There’s a video you can watch that explains how the program works.

4. Another option is to purchase a portable external hard drive. MyExternalHarddrive.com offers a variety of selections at a variety of prices.

In this way, if your computer crashes, is infected with a virus that results in a loss of files, or your house is destroyed, you will still have access to your files on backup disks or whatever other backup program you choose to use. You can then restore your files to your computer properly from these backup sources. Now that you have a good idea of how to backup files on you computer, you be the judge on which the best safeguarding alternatives are. Then breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Loretta C. Rogers also writes as L. W. Rogers
www.lorettacrogersbooks.com

10 comments:

Beate Boeker said...

Great advice, Loretta!

Sarita said...

Loretta, thanks for the reminder. I have good intentions but am not great about backing up. I like the gmail account idea. It seems easy and economical, so I'm going to try harder to remember to back things up.

Very informative blog post!

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Beate & Sarita--thanks for dropping by. Glad you got a few ideas.

Sandy Cody said...

A timely reminder, Loretta. Like Sarita, my intentions are better than my actions. I do have a flashdrive that I back up to when I think of it.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

On my old computer I backed up on the floppies, but several became corrupted and I lost valuable information. Oh, well, stuff happens. Thanks for dropping by Sandy.

Elisabeth Rose said...

I back up onto disc (erratically) and Norton's is supposedly doing it for me too but your mention of floppy discs made me think about technology going out of date. This stuff changes so fast we have to keep up with it or risk not being able to access the saved information. Think reel to reel tapes :)

Emailing to yourself is a good idea and I've done that too on occasion but I just don't remember to do it every session! Sigh...

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Thanks for the reminder! I have Carbonite, Dropbox, an external hard drive, and I've set my "auto save" in Word to save my document every four minutes. While Carbonite and the hard drive are terrific to maintain everything, I don't recommend them as your only backup for a wip since retrieving the files can take a while depending on how much stuff you have on your computer. That's why I have one more backup: I opened a Yahoo group for myself and keep all my wips, articles, workshops, etc. in the Files section. It requires me to upload the new version every time I make changes to a wip, but it also guarantees I can access that version at any time from any computer.

I.J. Parnham said...

I email myself with my current WIP and I have a dropbox account that I upload to about once a month. And sometimes, for really, really important things I press the print button.

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

I've never heard of most of these, Loretta, and I used to be an IT Consultant! That's what comes from leaving certain career paths. I do have an external hard drive and I have all my manuscripts on that and flashdrives but I'm not super-diligent about this – not until my laptop scene went blank and I thought I had lost weeks of work. Just a graphics card glitch but scary enough to teach me a lesson.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Ian, I also press the 'print' button. Since I live in a hurricane prone state, and being a little paranoid, I have a file box where I keep important stuff, so I can grab it when it's time to go to a safety shelter. Still 'Dropbox' and my email account give me a safe haven for retreiving my files. Thanks to all of you who stopped by and shared.