Thursday, January 29, 2009

WRITERS MUST BACK-UP THEIR FILES OFFSITE

BEACON FLASH #34 - February 2009

In 1986, I wrote my first book on a computer with miniscule memory. I had to use floppies to save everything. Back then floppy discs would not hold a complete book, so I put each chapter on to a separate disc and, in the end, I had 36 floppies! When I printed out the ms for my publisher in 1992, #5 was blank. Ouch!

Since that awful day, I have been obsessive about backing-up my work. Are you?


Having discussed this topic with several colleagues recently, I discovered that most writers are not paying enough attention to this vital task.


Although, I have my software set to auto-save every five minutes, and I transfer the file to a thumb drive (or CD) at the end of a day, this is not what I’m talking about.


It is not good enough to back-up files on devices in your home or office. What if a thief takes your computer and external hard drive? What if you lose or drop your laptop? (I’ve done that and lost everything.) What if your hard-drive fries?


My point here is: You must back-up offsite and do it every day. There are several ways to do it:

If you have a website, most servers give you enough space so you can upload important files to a private section as well. But you have to do it manually using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program. You also have to remember!

There are many websites that offer storage for important files, which you can encrypt for added security. For example, www.myotherdrive.com provides 5gb storage free (enough for several mss); for USD$1.99/month they give you 25gb. If you pay the fee, you can set up the transfers to take place automatically every day as long as your computer is on; if you pick the free version, you must do it manually. I consider the fee worth every penny and my files are uploaded every day during the dinner hour.

Some Internet service providers (ISP) have programs that will do it for you for a small monthly fee. You will have to hunt for the service, as they never advertise it well; phone your ISP if necessary. The software allows you to choose the folders and files for daily uploading and set a schedule that suits you.


Now, go do it! Your precious mss, whether finished or works-in-progress, deserve to be well-protected.

If you have better suggestions, please use the comment box so everyone can benefit.