Wednesday, October 2, 2013

IWSG: Why I Am Particular About Backing Up Work

It's IWSG day. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this monthly event where writers can share insecurities. I'm processing more than one writerly insecurity right now.  To keep things simple, I'll share just one of them.  

Shortly after I came back from the SCBWI conference in LA, my computer's hard drive crashed. My husband couldn't fix it. So we dropped off my hard drive with a computer doctor who has a hard-core reputation for reviving comatose laptops. A few days after he received our hard drive, this IT doctor called my husband and said he couldn't fix it. And neither could the other IT expert he'd later passed along my hard drive to. 

I mentioned this dilemma, in private, to one writer friend. But I didn't blog about it here because I try to avoid turning to the Internet when I'm freaking out about something. And boy, was I freaking out. The idea of a big chunk of my NaNoWriMo novel, lost. The idea of other valuable files, lost. 

Fortunately, as I carefully went through my stuff, I began to appreciate the worrier and "what if" planner that is Past Me. After running several searches on my email account, I found that I had emailed one copy of my most recent WIP draft to myself earlier in the summer. I also found some other significant files on a USB stick that I rarely use. And Past Me is often sentimental and reluctant about deleting certain images from my cameras' memory cards. So after digging through my house for this old point-and-shoot camera that I have, I recovered some of my children's pictures, which to me, are priceless.  

But I didn't recover everything. Some stuff from my expired hard drive, gone forever. *Long and wistful sigh*

Still, I'm grateful that I didn't lose everything. 

Since my hard drive crashed, I have a new laptop. I've also been using Dropbox and Google+ to save my stuff.  I'm still getting used to the idea of saving something I'd written onto the Internet. But, at the risk of sounding cliche, I'd rather be safe than sorry. If I was somewhat particular about saving things before, I would say I'm very particular now. Sometimes I still feel insecure about whether I'm backing up my work as often as I should be. 

How often do you back up your work?  Have you ever lost an important file on your hard drive?

Has Past You ever helped Future You?


Natalie Aguirre said...

I just lost my thumb drive. You're reminding me to get one immediately and back up. I should probably back up on Dropbox too.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I back up my laptop to another computer a couple times a year. (I should do it more often.)
I also email myself whatever manuscript I'm working on every couple days. In fact, I do it daily when I am making important changes.

Kirsten said...

If only the future me could help the past me ... :)
Strangely, I'm not too worried about backing up my computer in the cloud on a secure site. If my banking info is relatively safe there, my nutty stories probably are too. So I back up that way, and to make double sure I back up to Time Machine once a month or so, especially after hitting milestones like finishing a draft or making a significant revision.
I think losing any of my hard work would drive me crazy!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I use an external hard drive and - since the summer - Dropbox. I never back up regularly though, more when I can't remember the last time I did it. Not good! But posts like this always get me backing up straight away, so thanks :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry your hard drive couldn't be saved.
I am paranoid about losing stuff and back up my files once a week on two external hard drives. And I also use a couple thumb drives.

Pat Hatt said...

Blah, that sucks indeed. Mine did once way back when, but nothing major on it. Now I back up everything like crazy.

Elsie Amata said...

This breaks my heart and I'm so sorry you went through it. I have Time Capsule backing up all my stuff. Even with that, every so often I email myself just to be safe. My photos are backed up automatically on my cloud.


Julie Luek said...

Oh I don't think there is a writer alive whose stomach doesn't sink with empathy at your story. I read an article months ago by Rachelle Gardner I think, strongly urging writers so use Dropbox or another online source. That did it for me. I use that almost exclusively now.

S.P. Bowers said...

I use dropbox. I couldn't imagine not having that. Plus it has the benefit of being able to access my latest work from whichever computer I work on (desktop, laptop, etc) without having to worry about which version I'm working with. I also have an external hard drive that backs up everything on the desktop, just in case. I have lost things to crashes before so I'm extra careful now. I'm glad you were able to find so much. But I'm so sorry for the things you've lost.

Paul R. Hewlett said...

Never, but I am going to start now. I have thought about it, but never seem to do it and this sounds like the kind of thing that would happen to me. Thanks for sharing your insecurities. I hope all is well your way!

Paul R. Hewlett

Anonymous said...

I love looking through old files. My issue is with things I willingly deleted and years later I want to have a look at them.

I backup once a week.

John Wiswell said...

I once lost most of a book to a fried drive. It's terrible. Now I have a back-up drive and am installing Dropbox on the new PC. Must take care of my mental babies.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Sorry that you lost so much material. Thanks for the wake up call to keep back up files. Hope everything continues to run smoothly on your new computer.


Sherry Ellis said...

I don't back up my files nearly enough. This reminds me I need to get on the ball and get it done. Hope your new computer works well for you!

Mike Louie said...

I've been a dropbox user since it's early days and can't imagine my life without it. I have my novel backed up on 3 different platforms aside from my hard drive - it's just one of those things I'm paranoid about. I am so screwed, however, if we lose the Internet - hmm..maybe I should print a backup too. Eek.

I'm glad you were able to retrieve important data... I would have cried if I lost my NaNoWriMo novel.

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