As today is World Backup Day, (yes, it’s really a thing) let’s talk about that.
You only have to lose an entire book manuscript once, to learn to backup your data with multiple redundancies.
Yes, I speak from experience. I can tell you that there is nothing as sick-making as the jolt you get when you realize that a whole book is just…gone. For hours or days after that, you go through something similar to a grieving process, that involves denial, then anger, then acceptance. Then you have to make the hard decision: Let the book go? Or rewrite quickly, as much as you can remember, and hope the book is as good?
The problem with the latter is that you will always remember little bits and pieces from the first version that never make it into the second, and feel the second is lacking. On the upside, the second version is most likely stronger, technically, than the first, because you know the story and nothing gets in the way of writing it down as cleanly as you can. But it will never feel as good.
And that rewrite is heartbreaking. You’ll hate yourself and rail at the world the entire time you’re writing it.
Best to avoid the danger altogether.
These days, there are dozens of ways of making sure your data is safe. Don’t ever rely on your hard drive. Hard drives fail. Constantly. And without warning. Also, don’t rely on multiple hard drives on one computer, because something could happen to the computer.
You need backups that are stored in different locations. These days, that often means cloud storage, but you shouldn’t solely rely upon that, either.
Here’s my almost completely automated back-up system:
- My manuscripts and business files are all stored on Microsoft OneDrive (which has the added benefit of synchronizing data between all my devices). OneDrive also grabs any changes to the data or books I make on my laptop or (rarely) phone or tablet. Google Drive or DropBox can do the same thing, if you’re Microsoft-phobic. It’s worth paying the money to get enough storage space to synchronize all the data files of your primary drive, but even the free versions will do, if you have zero budget.
- I don’t keep personal files on OneDrive. I have multiple drives, and use a different one for family photos, etc.
- I also keep my image archive on a different drive.
- I am a OneNote superuser, and keep series bibles and development notes for books and series inside OneNote. OneNote has its own archiving and synchronizing system. I also force new notebooks to save to my primary OneDrive folder, because that builds in a redundancy, and creates an archive that *I* control.
- The only manual part of my backup system is that once a week or so, I manually drag a copy of the entire business folder, which includes my manuscripts, over to a second drive on my desktop. This would give me instant (but out of date) access to files that might take hours to download from an off-site archive.
- My three drives (one which I partitioned, making four virtual drives) on my desktop are all automatically backed up by an archive service, Backblaze.* I never think about this archive, or have to fuss with settings, or touch it in any way, but having it there has saved my ass at least three times.
If all your data files live on one device with zero archives anywhere else, how are you sleeping at night? At the very least, set up a cloud drive for yourself–today.
*[This is an affiliate link, but I would recommend Backblaze without it–the peace of mind is worth every penny.]