How do you back up your writing files? And how often? Do you have confidence that if your computer died tonight, your files would be saved? Or if it crashed now, what about the document you currently have open?
I just saved this file (Ctrl + S). But I also just reset the auto save function on my word-processing program so instead of performing an auto save every fifteen minutes; it’s now set for ten. But should it be five?
And when I’ve finished this document, small as it is, I’ll copy it to the flash drive I always carry in my pocket. (At night it sits on my night stand, next to my eyeglasses case.)
Recently I’ve been seeing some full-page magazines for an online data backup service. For something like sixty dollars a year, it backs up everything on your machine.
About a third of the writers I’ve asked use online backup. One, who lives in tornado country, appreciates the security of an offsite backup. “If the unthinkable happens and my home is demolished by fire or tornado,” she says, “my information is still intact.” Another writer friend experienced a more localized disaster, but was rescued by her online backup service. “We were robbed,” she says, “and my PC went with the jewelry. Was I glad to be able to recall everything in its entirety!”
Another third say they use an external hard drive. I’ve been watching the ads in the Sunday newspapers, and those devices sure look tempting. This weekend one big box store advertised a one terrabyte external hard drive for about seventy dollars. And my favorite online computer store beats that deal easily.
A techie writer friend who travels extensively likes the way her external drive, combined with synchronizing software, not only keeps her data safe, but also enables her to sync files between her desktop and laptop machines. “Whenever I plug the backup drive into the computer,” she says, “the software automatically scans the folders I’ve preset and looks for any changes — either new files, deleted files, or changed/updated files. It synchronizes in the background, but it doesn’t interrupt my work.”
Others tell me that when they finish a document, they email it to themselves as a attached file. The only cost is the time and discipline to do it.
For myself, I think I need to look more deeply into an external hard drive. I’m open to your suggestions.