Back it Up!

See that computer in the photo? It had a little oopsie, got caught in a little fire. Before you ask, no it’s not my computer. I wish it were my computer though, then I’d have an excuse. Because really, I should know better.

As a programmer–as a WRITER— I should have known better. In my work career, I have been a network administrator, a web host provider, a site designer, programmer and developer. Constantly managing data and storage, and what’s the most important thing about data? You need to back it up.

Typically, I have 2 to 3 copies of a file with various versioning, multiple storage locations. I may lose a part of my work, but rarely all of it. Of course, there’s always that one time.

I had been working on an important story to myself, hopefully when finished others would at least be entertained. I was working from a local copy during my spare time at work. I was revising directly with my draft version. Not what I typically do, a new file for each new draft.

At home, I have the latest version of software, it autosaves as often as I want and to multiple locations. At work, where I don’t work with document files on a daily basis, I have a 12/13 year old version. No autosave, no multiple save locations, and to top it off I wasn’t saving to my DropBox account because of network issues.

I had essentially typed * THE END * on this important story and because I didn’t have network access decided to save the copy to my phone. That’s when it got weird. As soon at the folder from my phone appeared on my desktop, BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH.

Reboot the computer, cursing the probable loss of a couple pages of revision. Went to load up the file. It wouldn’t load. The archaic document program didn’t auto-recover. The story was gone. Finito! The only place this story existed was my mental hard drive, and to be honest most days that needs a reboot.

This was a bit unusual, but since I’m still reeling from my stupidity, I thought I’d share and offer these 5 bits of advice.

1. AutoBackup or AutoRecover – Set your document software to back up automatically every 5 minutes. And if you have an AutoRecover feature, make sure that is selected as well.

2. Save to Multiple Locations – It’s safe to say you won’t be left hanging if you save your file to multiple locations, even on your hard drive.

3. Utilize remote file storage – I use DropBox to pass projects between work and home. It’s a great service and offers 2gb of storage for free. And of course you can purchase a package with more space.

4. Never work on live copy – If you are going to edit, which I hope you will, always save a final draft of each story revision. Not only will this preserve the chain of development, but you may decide that scene you cut out of draft 2 really needs to be in the final draft.

5. Never assume it won’t happen to you – It will.