Beep! Beep! Beep!
What is that sound? Why, it’s the sound of backing up! Backing up, you say? Why yes, backing up your files, of course!
I have been extremely lucky with all of my computering. Only once, well over ten years ago did I lose anything significant in the writing department. It was a chapter of a novel I was working on (a project long abandoned) that I saved to a bad disk. Remember disks?
I remember the crushing realization that my baby was gone, gone forever. I also remember spending an ungodly amount of time trying to reconstruct the genius of my chapter from memory. I gave up eventually, disheartened by what I felt was the vast inferiority of my second attempt. I don’t recall if that had anything to do with why I gave up on the manuscript all together, but I did.
I got a fresh reminder of that last week.
Not only am I not technologically advanced, I don’t pretend to be. I have a Gateway laptop that is two or three years old. You know that little bar when you click on My Computer and it shows you how much of your computer’s memory you are using? Mine is about a quarter of an inch long. I check Facebook, check email and hook up my camera to my computer. That is all. Word, lovely Word, rules all on this PC. So you can imagine my devastation last week when I was working away on my manuscript edit and Word just froze, just inexplicably froze like a cup of coffee in the high Arctic. I wasn’t mad, just annoyed. I couldn’t even Ctrl+Alt+Del my way out of the problem so I shut it down with the power button in a harumph.
Little PC fired right up and helpfully informed me it had not shut down properly, (no kidding!) and I started it in normal mode. All was well. Since I am a saving ninja, I was not worried about a loss of work, plus I have Autosave set to back up my files every ten minutes. Everything loaded up normally and I opened Word. You know if your computer takes a crap on you and you open up Word, it shows the Autosaved versions of everything you had open so you can choose what version you want to keep? Yeah, that didn’t happen. I opened my last saved version of the file and about a page and a half of awesome revisions were missing. In the end I lost about a page and a half of work, so I’m not going to bemoan this, but I am going to tell you some things that I learned from this experience.
1. Do not trust Word’s Autosave. I went back through the Autosave files and found the last Autosave had occurred at 10:17 am. Word froze at 3:30pm. I double checked my Autosave settings, yep, every ten minutes.
2. Save your work, yourself, every half hour to more than one location. The only thing that prevented this from being a bloody tragedy was this exact habit that I have maintained for years. Don’t trust your computer to do it for you. Your computer is a useful tool, but it cannot be trusted.
3. Save everything meaningful to you in more than one place. Every half hour I save my work to my computer’s hard drive and to a usb stick thing (that’s the technical term) but that will not help me if my house burns to the ground, so after I complete a chapter, I email my entire manuscript to myself. The most I can lose of my work in progress is one chapter.
4. Consider an online data backer-upper. This is my next step. My husband just suffered a catastrophic meltdown of his iMac (they are not immune) and now I am convinced. I am currently weighing my options, but I am definitely going to get something like justcloud.com or mypcbackup.com. If anyone has any experience with any of these services, please comment!
My life’s work is well worth the fee, so is yours.