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Backups, Backups, Backups

Like with certain other aspects of your life, protecting yourself from 'accidents' is something your don't want to put off. The same goes for backing up your writing.

Seriously, if you don't have a back up of your work, do so now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Now, my friend. Now.

One glass of wine too close to your laptop and there goes your brilliant literary debut.

There are many ways to back up your work and not every solution works for everyone.

Personally, I prefer something that is remote (that is, the back up is not kept in the same building as my computer), is free, reliable, secure, and automatic (I don't have to remember to do a thing).

Here are a few ways you can back up your work:

  • Data Key/Jump Drive/Thumb Drive/Memory Card/CD/DVD
--Pros: you can take it with you, it is small, durable.
--Cons: easy to lose, can write to 'bad' spots, have to remember to place latest work on it. Space can become an issue.
COST: a few dollars upwards to about $50

  • Backup Drive External to Your Computer
--Pros: back up is separate from your computer. Something like Time Machine can be set up to do automatic backups. Room to store more than just a few documents. Some can be used wirelessly while others need to be hooked up via USB. Some (such as Time Machine) will save multiple versions throughout the day, week, and month.
--Cons: Cost of the device. Some may require slight computer know-how to set up. Some do not back up automatically.
COST: $50 upwards

  • Email Documents to Yourself
--Pros: Easy. Depending on your email program, you may be able to retrieve documents from other computers/locations.
--Cons: May quickly fill up your email storage. If using an email client that downloads emails to your computer, you haven't really backed up your work. (Gmail, hotmail, Yahoo mail, etc which are accessed online store emails on online servers and not on your computer.) Your documents are only as secure as your email password. Must remember to regularly email documents to yourself.
COST: Email is free (assuming you have internet) to whatever you want to pay

  • Online Backup Services
Pros: set it up and 'forget it' as it will perform automatic backups. (Hourly, daily, weekly--your choice. With one click can do a back up right now.) Keeps multiple versions of your files. Easy to retrieve old files.
Cons: must have internet service to back up. Must trust their encryption and security devices.
COST: free to ?

**Personally, I recommend Mozy for online backup services. The free account has enough room to hold my plethora of text documents. The next level up in service holds enough to contain everything on the average computer including pictures and videos. Google "Mozy coupon" if you are looking at signing up for their pay service.

**Bigblackcat97 says, "I also use Buzzword.com - free, run by Adobe, plus you can share docs there with other Buzzword users for critting. Only those you share the doc with can view it, it's not publicly viewable."

  • Cloud Computing
Pros: Once set up, Dropbox syncs your computer and mobile devices without a thought. You can make these services public or private. Dropbox automatically updates file changes and if you have it on several different 'stations,' if you make one change, it changes them all.
Cons: gets expensive if you want to store more than 2G (gigs) on Dropbox. As with any form of cloud computing, you must trust their security and must have internet access to upload and sync documents.
COST: includes services such as Google Documents, Dropbox (first 2G are free)

Those are a few of the more common ways to back up your work. Now you have no excuse!

If you would like to add something about backups, please do so as technology is always changing.

Jean Oram is a writer that goes through approximately one computer every two years due to her technology-destroying superpowers.


Very helpful Jean. I had a terrifying experience one day when my new laptop totally refused to turn on. It was weeks before I got it back - thankfully with all the data intact.

Since then I've signed up for Mozy which I love! The free version is lots of room for my text documents. My only trouble was remembering to leave the computer on at the beginning. It doesn't back it up when the computer is asleep or off. You can also tell it to do a backup whenever you want which is a nice option.

I've also bought an external hard drive which I use once a week. I do email myself copies of each draft as well.

Yes, I'm paranoid - but I don't want to go through that terror again!
Word of warning on jump/key drives - they can mess up and corrupt files. I wouldn't use a jump drive to save work.

I've been using Dropbox and sleep very well at night.

But I also have an external hard drive.