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Monday, January 25, 2010

Calling For Backup

Yes, the Evil Computer is back. Over at Bookends, the topic for today is backing up your computer files, so it got me to thinking. Is there any 100% safe and sure backup method?

Over the years I've backed up my word files on floppies, rewritable CDs, and flash drives, but I've still managed to lose a lot of material as a result of computer crashes. Any backup method is only as good as the person using it. You have to resave each document after each and every little edit or you're not covered.

Let's run it down. Floppies are out of the question. They never were reliable, and these days computers usually don't even have a floppy drive. Writable CDs are good, I guess, but I always had a problem with those as well. On every computer I've owned--and I'm now up to half a dozen--the CD drive has eventually stopped working. I'm now using flash drives, but I understand they are also vulnerable because they can become corrupted.

Back in the very early days of owning a computer, I printed everything. It didn't take long before I was buried under a mountain of partials in hard copy. I printed each time I made a change or added to each document and, after a while, I couldn't make heads or tails of any of it because the sheer volume of version 1, 2 , 3 etc. became overwhelming. And let's not forget the cost of paper and ink for all that printing.

So, what's the answer?

Many writers set up a Google or Yahoo email account and email their manuscripts to themselves. But I foresee the same old problem with this. You would have to be super diligent and email the ms. each and every time you make a change to the text.

I know how heartbreaking it is to lose an entire manuscript or even multiple partials, not to mention pictures and other sundry items, in a computer crash. Just the other day, a dear friend and fellow writer asked me if I perchance had any of her old manuscripts on my computer from when we used to critique together. Sadly, I had to say I didn't. Those critiques were two computers and several years ago. I feel so bad for her. She's lost everything she didn't have in hard copy.

If anyone has a tried and true backup method that I haven't mentioned, I'd love to hear about it.



  1. How about as a backup-backup, email the manuscript to yourself?

  2. A printed copy is always a good back up, but not for every little edit and change. I think you hit the nail on the head with the word "diligent". Every time we close the manuscript we should save on our computers and our flash drives or whatever other method of back up we use. Do I do this every time? Nope! But I know I should. I try to do so every third or fourth time I open the manuscript. It's certainly not foolproof, but it's my way of being diligent.

    Great topic, Devon!

  3. Hi Mags! Yes, this would work, as long as the email account is on Yahoo or Google. That way, regardless of what happens on your computer, the internet mail wouldn't be affected.

    Hope you're doing well, kiddo. Been thinking about you.

  4. Hi Amy! It's nice to hear from you. Been a long time. :o)

    Lack of diligence was always my downfall, but I've gotten better about saving stuff. Now, I always send what I'm working on to my flash drive before I close it down.

    Over on Bookends, some of the commenters were talking about online data storage. You pay a fee to store your stuff online, kinda like those rows of storage sheds people rent to store the overflow from their houses. At least, that's what it made me think of. I don't think I'd feel comfortable doing something like that. Plus, what a hassle to go though even more steps every time you wanted to save something.

    Hope you're doing well and still writing.

  5. Devon,
    Wow, your Monday Blog hit me right on the head. I've been talkng to a techie about just what you blogged about. And yeah, I feel bad about all that stuff I lost, too. It's one of the reasons I haven't jumped back into the FLOW (of writing) but I'm determined to get there. Some way, somehow.
    It was great to read your Blog!
    Mary M.

  6. Mary, I feel sick every time I think about the mss. you lost. I LOVED those stories. I've been wondering how much of the material you have in hard copy. I know it's gotten you out of heart, but I hope that changes very soon. I hope the tech is able to help.

    I'm now keeping everything I have in progress on two computers and multiple flash drives.


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