Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Back It Up, Baby!

Writer Wednesday: Back It Up, Baby!
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This is hard earned advice.  Back it up.  Back it ALL up! Trust me!
If you haven’t lost or really messed up a document, image, or website yet, you will.  I can’t guarantee that 100%, but it’s 90% certain it will happen at least once and quite likely at the worst possible moment.  Technology is wonderful, but it is certainly not foolproof!  Things break, get deleted or corrupted, mysteriously disappear…  you know, the dog ate it.
I’ve lost favorite images, essays the night before they were due, drafts of stories, emails, presentations… you name it, I’ve probably lost it.
Below are some items you should consider backing up.

Drafts

Keep all your drafts!  Don’t delete them.  You may go back and find material for a new project or re-insert previous material into a later draft.  Not much is junk!

Final Versions/Submissions

You will have a final version of a manuscript.  You will also have a formatted submission.  Keep both.

Images

Any image that you post online should be kept in a logically labeled folder.  I can’t tell you how many times I needed an image again for a different purpose and couldn’t find it because I moved it or deleted it or didn’t file it properly.  Doing this will save you hours of frustration and maybe even a couple of grey hairs!  Unlike drafts, I do delete images that are junk, and if your folders are messy, it is way too easy to make a mistake.  I’m sure you can guess how I know that!

Blog or Website

Yes, please!  Back up your website!  Not just the design, but also your posts.  Things happen.  Blogs or websites get hacked, deleted, broken….  And then all that work is “poof” gone!  Yikes.


I have an essay I wrote a few years back soon after I lost my Mom.  The essay was on a blog I was keeping at the time about my Mom’s journey through illness, transplantation, fundraising, challenges, and eventual death.  It was about seeing a can of pea soup on the shelf at the store and realizing I would never have my Mom’s homemade pea soup again.


It’s the only piece of my writing that my boyfriend ever talks about...and it’s gone.  I even had warning that it would happen.  I knew the website would eventually be deleted and I just left it until one day I went to look for it… too late!


Please, don’t do what I did...or still do.  Technology is imperfect and we pour hours of our time, creativity, and talent into creating these things.  Don’t gamble!  There are lots of services available.  Just type “blog back up” into your favorite search engine, and, voila!


Ways to Back It Up

  • Old school hard copy
  • CD/DVD - This requires you to have detailed labels and a place to store them.
  • External hard drive - These are great but I have had two fail on me and then had to get the files recovered.
  • Thumb or flash drive - some people swear by these and store their files on these instead of CDs or DVDs.  I tend to lose small things.  I’ve also had these fail on me as well
  • Online solutions allow you to store documents “out there”.  There are both paid and free services.  Listed here are a few:
    • Google Drive
    • Dropbox
    • Carbonite
    • Mozy


Do a search for “online backup solutions”.  These are ones I’ve heard of but don’t necessarily use.  I do use Google Drive and Dropbox but I haven’t used the others but they have a good reputation. What's nice about those, too, is the ability to share documents with others without having to clog up their inbox.  My photography gallery on Zenfolio not only serves as back up space but also as a way to share and sell my photographs. Try to get the most bang for your buck and always do your research!


A sister piece of advice: SAVE OFTEN!!  Again, learned the hard way.  If you pause for a thought in the midst of writing, save.  Finish a brilliant passage?  Save.  Get up for a stretch break?  Save.  You get the idea.  [Ctrl+S] is the keyboard shortcut in most PC-based software so you don’t even need to move your fingers from the keyboard!  For a Mac, it’s [+S]. (⌘ is the symbol for the Command key on a Mac)


What do you use to back up your materials?  How often?  Do you have any horror stories?  Do you have a system for organizing your materials?
Please share in the comments below.

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