We’ve all heard nightmares about lost manuscripts.
In the days of paper and typewriters, writers worried about fire. We bought fireproof safes or rented safe deposit boxes for our precious manuscripts, lest they burn up before they got published.
Today writers face even more concerns than fire. We can also lose our files through a technological breakdown. I’ve met authors who wore flash drives around their necks, carrying their words with them wherever they traveled. Flash drives make odd jewelry, but they do offer a sense of comfort.
Years ago I bought an external hard drive. After relying on it for a while, I discovered it had a mind of its own and chose which folders to copy and which to ignore. For certainty, I backed up my important documents manually, provided I remembered to do so.
I felt comfortable with my external hard drive backup system. Yes, in a fire my computer, processor, external hard drive, and all my backup information would melt beyond repair, but such a disaster would never happen to me, right? Wrong. Instead of fire, water shook my world. In September 2009 much of Woodstock, Georgia, experienced a flood, and water seeped in through my walls. Even though the flood did not, thank heavens, affect my computers, it messed up my floor, walls, books, photos, and anything else stored within a few inches of the floor.
Since then I’ve been collecting information from others about how they back up their files, and it came as a surprise that most writers “plan to do something” about backup but rarely take action. After eight months of information collecting, I experienced a revelation: with my procrastination, I had joined the ranks of folks who had no safe backup system.
Finally I joined a service that automatically backs up my documents and holds them on the Internet for me. If my entire home fills with water or goes up in flames, all my documents and digital photographs are safe. I will scan my most important printed photographs and back them up, too, to ensure they survive the next flood, even though we were told it was a 500-year event. At last I have peace of mind.
Will our current technology last? No one can say, but it’s all we have to work with, so I took the plunge. (Whoops! No intentional reference to my prior flood.)
What have you done to protect your precious files? Don’t merely think about it. Don’t procrastinate any longer. The creek’s rising. Do something!