Monday, March 12, 2012

Writing Tips ~ Backing up Your Data

Just before Christmas 2011, the unthinkable happened... we left our house for just over an hour and when we got home, someone had broken in and stolen several things - one of which was my laptop with all my writing related information on it.

Here's the thing. I backed up my data periodically. But after this incident I can tell you, I didn't back it up often enough.

At that time I was bearing down on the finish line of a novel and I hadn't backed it up for about a week - I lost several thousand words. Other things I lost that I hadn't even considered backing up were: emails, contacts, and pictures.

So do yourself a favor and don't be like me. Prepare now for the worst.

I now have a program called SyncBack that I use. This nifty little program allows me to use my website (where I already had a significant amount of storage space) as a back up of certain folders on my computer. I've set it up so it runs once a day at a certain time. At least if something like this happens to me again I will only lose at the most 24 hours of work.

There are also lots of options out there of paid back-up services. Some of those are: Carbonite, Live Drive, Storage Guardian, MyPCBackup, and Mozy. (Note, I don't use any of these, so please use caution and check them out before deciding which one to use.)

Where do you start?

  1. Make a list of all the information on your computer that you would simply hate to lose if the unimaginable happened. Be thorough.
  2. Decide which back-up method is right for you. It should be an automated solution, not one that is performed by you, because life happens and backing up our computers isn't always on the top of our priority list.
  3. Set it up and forget about it - well, for the most part - it's good to check in on it every once in awhile to make sure your automations are actually doing what you've told them to do. 

I hope you'll never have to use this, but if you do, you'll be so glad you set it up ahead of time. It will save you lots of hassle!

What are your backup solutions? Any other programs I didn't mention above that you use and are pleased with?
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  1. Yes, offsite backups are important!

    So is automation.

    I like Second Copy. You can make several profiles to back up different things at different times to different placs. I backup all recent changes to a thumbdrive every time the computer turns off, and a big backup to a hard-drive that comes with us when we travel (or stays home if I take my laptop -- either way, one thing stays home). Others send the hard drive to work with their partner.

    I especially like its "Oops, I plugged things into different ports this time. All those files that used to go to F: should now go to G:" feature.

    To ensure you have everything, use Windows (or the Mac system) to search for all files that have changed in the last week. (How to do this changes with every version.) There will be zillions of files, so sort by file type and/or location. Some programs save things in strange places.


  2. SyncBack sounds interesting. Does it encode your files in some way, so they're not available for anyone to find on the Web? My backup system involves a weekly backup to an external harddrive and a daily backup of my WIP to my email account.

  3. Cricket, I'll have to look into Second Copy. Thanks for telling us about it.

    Katie, you can send the files to a secured folder.

  4. So sorry you had to go through that, Lynnette. Thanks for sharing a lesson learned the hard way!

  5. Ouch! Sympathies. I use Crashplan with a removable USB hard drive and I recommend it highly...because I've actually had to use the "recover" function and it worked. Flawlessly.

  6. Crashplan... thanks, Kaz. Another one to check out.

    Linda, hopefully I won't have to write another of these a couple years from now!

  7. Good advice! I should take it... right now I back-up on a separate hard drive and a flash drive.

  8. We use Carbonite at my day job and it works great. I have dial-up at home so I'm limited on automated solutions that use a lot of bandwidth. I use FileZilla to back up my writing to an ftp folder on my website.

  9. I use DropBox. It is through the cloud. It can be added to your phone, laptop, and desktop. And you can log in ANYwhere. It performs automatic checks/syncs for what you have placed in your "box" and it is secure. There are free and paid versions.

  10. Wow Lynnette....I've always worried about a computer crash...hadn't considered theft! So sorry you had to experience this. Thank you so much for letting us learn from your troublesome experience.

  11. I email myself, send it to Google email, and to my church secretary, she keeps a file for me.

    A friend of mine had her computer stolen, had no copy of her book and had to re-write the whole thing from scratch. Back up is so important.

    Have a blessed day.

  12. Pegg, do! You just never know.

    Carl, I have another friend who uses Carbonite and he said it is awesome, too.

    D, Yes, DropBox is good. Their free service doesn't offer much more than 2GB though, if I remember correctly. Which wasn't enough to back up my 500GB drive.

    Kathryn, thanks. I was right there with you. Never considered a theft.

    Heather, Ugh! I so feel for your friend. I'm not sure I would have had the gumption to retype the whole thing.

  13. I use Dropbox for my WIP and to collaborate with clients. For collaboration, Dropbox is hard to beat, as it is with syncing between computers.

    I've tried online backup sources for complete hard drive backup, but found them too slow to be a reasonable solution (I have a lot of very large files for video and 3D, so that might make a difference).

    One thing I have that most people don't is fireproof safe. I swap between two drives, so one is always in the safe (along with my passport and various other vital documents). Combined with iCloud backups and Dropbox, my vital writing files are on four hard drives and two servers. Hard drives are cheap enough that getting a redundant one that you either put in a safety deposit box, keep at a friend's house or work, etc., makes a lot of sense.