Friday, June 1, 2018

Don't Forget to Back Up Your Work

You put a lot of time into your novel. Don't forget to put a couple of seconds into making sure you have another copy. 

Viruses, floods, fires, burglars -- there's a lot that could happen to your computer and the precious files on it. If you don't have a backup, you could end up losing months or even years of work on your manuscripts. 

Don't let that happen. 

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

1. Use a flash drive. 

Flash drives are pretty cheap and can hold a lot of data, so this is an inexpensive method. 

The downside is that it takes a little bit of time, and you have to remember to save your work. Another downside is that you could lose the flash drive, and it could be subject to the same viruses, fires, or floods that threaten your computer. 

If you use this method, keep your flash drive somewhere safe, away from your computer. Try to back up your files on a regular schedule. Ideally, this would be after every writing session. At a minimum, it should be once a week or once a month.

2. Email yourself.

Assuming you already have an email account, this method is free and doesn't require anything extra. Simply email your manuscript to yourself. 

This is kind of like using a flash drive, but you don't need to worry about misplacing your email or losing it in a fire. You can access your email -- and your manuscript -- anywhere you have the internet. 

Your email could get hacked, but hopefully you're already using a secure password to prevent that. If you're really worried, you can use a private email address that's dedicated to this purpose. 

3. Use a cloud-based backup service.

This is often the most convenient method. Many of these services back up your files automatically, so you don't have to think about it.

The downside is that you may have to pay for the service, and the prices run from cheap to kind of expensive. There's also a chance that the service could get hacked. 

If you're interested in buying a backup service, check out PC Magazine's Best Online Backup Services of 2018 to see how different companies compare. 

I recommend using multiple backup methods. Personally, I have a flash drive, a backup service AND a flash drive. Maybe it's overkill, but at least I'll never be tempted to run into a fire to save my laptop, like the man in this news story from the New Orleans Advocate

I also recommend backing up multiple versions of your manuscript. In other words, don't always replace the old version with the new version. Save both. This way, if a file is corrupted, or if you realize you messed something up, you can always go back to an earlier version. 


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