The Importance of Backing Up

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Discussions, On Writing
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As writers, our work is our life, right? It’s our skin, our blood, our organs, our mind. To me, my work is everything.

Recently, I had gotten internet at home for the first time. Before that I’d rarely gotten on the internet, and was nervous to do so because I had no protection (like antivirus). Well, I’d noticed my computer acting up. It wouldn’t close programs properly, some times it wouldn’t pull up web pages, just little things. I hadn’t noticed any real red flags. But the night before my husband and I left for our honeymoon, I was on my computer (online I think, and by this time I had gotten antivirus) and went to shut it down. I clicked the ‘Start’ menu button, then the ‘Shut Down’ button. Nothing happened. Generally my computer shuts down quickly and without problems (unless applying updates). Any way, I couldn’t shut down my computer. I tried manually turning it off by pressing the power button, which was set to put the computer in sleep mode. So I had to go through and change what the button did, then finally I was able to shut my computer down. I turned it right back on to make sure nothing was wrong or messed up. Then my computer told me that it basically would not start on its own. It gave me the option to save all my files onto something and do a system recovery (there were other options but none seemed to be able to help me). I decided that’s what I would do to keep my computer healthy, but I didn’t have anything with enough memory to hold all my files. So my husband and I ran into town and bought a flash drive from our 24hr Walmart. I plugged it in when I got home and copied all my files onto the flash drive. I then did a system recovery, restoring my computer to the factory settings. When I went to put my files back onto my computer, I found that while I was able to save them to my computer, I wasn’t able to view them or open them or use them in any way. I still can’t, and as a result, I’ve lost two stories, nearly all my music, most of my pictures, and all my videos. I still have them all saved on the flash drive, but the format they’re saved in doesn’t appear to be compatible with my computer (which is weird because my computer created the copies of my files).

Luckily, I have another flash drive on which I had saved most of my work. This brings me to the point of this post. ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR FILES. If you have all your work, all your writing, (or most or some even) saved to your computer, it is an absolute must for the writer to save copies to other places. I save mine to a flash drive that goes into a fireproof safe. I also have hard/paper copies of some of my work.

There are also websites which you pay for space to store your files in. I’ve never used one, and I just don’t like the idea of paying for something I can quite easily do myself, but it’s a great idea because if your computer was to crash, your files would be safe and sound online. It’s up to you to decide what works best for you and your lifestyle.

Here’s some tips/tricks/pointers for backing up your files:

  • Keep a copy of everything outside of your house (in case of fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, robbery, etc). My Dad offered to let me store my work at his house to keep it safe, it’s a good idea to have copies at a friend or relative’s house.
  • Make not only cd/flash drive etc copies, but print paper copies of everything. I know this can take up a lot of space, but trust me, it’s so worth it.
  • Save/make copies EVERY DAY. Every single time you alter a document on your computer, make sure you save the changes to your copies as well. If you lose the changes you’ve made, how are you going to remember exactly what you had?
  • Save drafts. This is extremely important to the writer for various reasons. One is, of course, if you lose the draft you’re working on. That way you’ll at least be able to go back to the original version and do it over again, but as I’d mentioned above this is not ideal. Also, what if you’re working on your third draft, and you feel that it’s not quite right? If you’d saved your earlier drafts it would be no problem to go back and alter your first draft differently to make it just right.

Basically, I don’t want you guys making the mistake I did. Sure, I backed my files up, but I did not keep up to date with my backing up. The writer needs to back up their work every single time they work on and after every (even little) change. No one wants to lose their work. Make sure it doesn’t happen to you, and back up your files, right now.

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Comments
  1. Yikes. What a horror story. I know how it feels though. I had been working on a short story that I was really proud of and my computer up and died. I thought I was going to be sick because I didn’t save the bloody thing. Now I save everything! I also downloaded Offisync which links my word document to my google docs so when I save a file it automatically gets stored online.

  2. Chris Martin says:

    Great post, Lakin. I’ve been working in computers forever and never backed anything up. Couple years ago, I almost lost all my writing and since then, I backup all the time. Definitely some awesome advice. Hope you’re having a great day.

    Chris

    • It’s terribly upsetting, isn’t it? To find that you’ve lost the originals of work you will NEVER get back. The worst part about it was that I had read about how important it is to back up your work, and I did, but I didn’t stay on top of it. Procrastination is probably my worst fault.

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