Back up now

Every writer should know the importance of keeping regular back ups. Many writers have suffered from the agony of losing a morning’s work following a program or computer system crash. But how many writers (apart from the Geeky ones) will pay attention to making proper regular backups?

Back up
Over the years I’ve tried several methods – some have worked really well, others, including the zip disk and the once ubiquitous floppy, died a death long before the storage medium physically wore out.

CDs and DVDs are all very well but don’t cope well with change, and the last thing I need is to lose yet another precious hour trying to figure out which was the most recent version of draft 3 of my novel.

I’ve tried nifty little programs like ysync (a free program written by novelist, programmer and all round nice guy, Simon Haynes) and backup to email. If you have a pc and a windows laptop, ysync is definitely worth a try, though it might not help if your home is destroyed in a fire. And back up to email combined with gmail, gives the reassurance that in the event of an act of god your data is backed up online, so it’s a secure as it can be, but you will get a growing pile of versions to compare. If you’re really organised that could be just what you were looking for, you can change your mind about a scene you wrote yesterday and easily roll back to that version. It didn’t suit me but I’m not a brilliantly organised person.

Right now, I’m trying out the home version of Mozy online backup. I found it easy to set up – you select the file types and folders you want backed up and how often you want the backups to happen, and let it do the rest. There’s a free version which offers 2gb of space, which should be enough for your writing needs.

My first back up took several hours and I let it run overnight, but subsequent back ups take less time, depending on how many new or changed files you have.

For me the benefit of this system is that I don’t have to think about it. There’s no need to remember to burn anything or even run a program – it’s all done for me.

Having come close to losing everything on at least two occasions, I’m not taking any more chances with backups, and if you’ve read this far, nor should you. Whatever system you try, do something about it now.

If you have your own backup solutions, please leave a comment and share the details.

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6 thoughts on “Back up now

  1. I daresay that everyone working self-employed needs to have a working backup solution.

    I use Mozy as well, for my most important documents. And I regularly back up to an external hard drive. For the latter the important thing is to have an incremental backup. You might have to skim through older versions of the document you’re looking for, but at least you have them in one place.

  2. Pingback: Back up on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

  3. I really need to find a way to back up my files more efficiently. For me this means mostly pictures and so far I am just doing it manually which involves a lot of comparing, head-scratching and squinty eyes and ends mostly with way too many files backed up in numerous locations.

  4. My macs are Time machine enabled, which means that when they are near to the wifi network they automatically backup whatever has changed. And the really important files go to sync on mac.com as well. Kind of trouble free.

    I must admit I still do the occasional send an email to myself of something really ‘valuable’ because its then also on the mail system’s backup.

    And my photos go to Apertures vault x 2 as well.

    But don’t get me started about video which consumes at least 13 gig per hour. No wonder terabyte disks have little stackable indentations on them.

  5. Matt – you’re right about all self employed people needing a back up solution. I don’t know if it applies in Europe but I read that in the States more and more laptops are confiscated at airports, and you might never get your data back.

    andraz – it’s my first time of using it but it looks pretty good.

    Ann-Kathrin – I’m lucky in that I see my digital photo files as rather more disposable, but I do have a pile of CDs and DVDs with photos that cause much head scratching and squinty eyes.

    rashbre – you have a time machine? Is this a standard Mac thing? Damn, another reason to buy a Mac… if only they weren’t so expensive.

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