I realize too late that the title for this post sounds like a cure for colon problems. Lest anyone get confused: THIS BLOG IS NOT ABOUT POOP.
…Most of the time.
Regular readers know of the horror which occurred recently: my hard drive shit itself.* It was entirely unresponsive without some side-load finagling, and even when I managed to access the drive, there was only one solution: erase it right down to the zeroes and start fresh.
Now, this was not the absolute shit show it could have been, because I back my work up. All of it. Multiple times a day. Because while I love technology, I don’t always trust it.
But this failure has made me re-examine my backup policy. Because, frankly, it could be better. And when this happens again, I will be more prepared.
Bare Knuckle Guide To Backing Up Your Shit
1. Go Offsite. You can back up to the Cloud** or some other service, but you should have at least one backup that isn’t in your house. Because floods/fires/earthquakes/catastrophic clown invasions happen, people.
There are a bunch of services that will do this for you. I use Crash Plan because it makes backing up automatic. I download the software, seed the initial backup, and then it runs by itself, only backing up the files that have changed every day. The only downside to Crash Plan is that both initial backup and remote restore can be slow. It took a week for my initial, and it will be five days before I get every single file back from its servers. If you live in the US, however, they also offer Restore To Your Door, where they just courier you a hard drive filled with your stuff.
Crash Plan–and other services–also give you the option of backing up to a friend’s computer, in case you’re connected to someone who doesn’t mind you storing copies of your shameful pornography collection on their hard drive.
2. Go Local. You want a local backup, too, if only for the restoring. This is where my plan lacked. I had an external hard drive, but I rarely remembered to back up to it because I had to plug it in, start the backup, and bitch moan whine. So I had no local backup. Which wasn’t a problem until now, when I have to restore nearly a terabyte of information at 7 mbps.
I have a new external hard drive. It holds more information and yet is small and portable, so I’ll be travelling with it in case the laptop decides to crap itself again while I’m on the road and away from wi-fi.
Get one. Back up with it once a day. You can even get wi-fi enabled ones, though they’ll likely take longer to back up.
3. Friend In My Pocket. I keep the files that I’m working on right this second on a thumb drive as well. Two reasons: one, if I decide I need to show someone something, it’s right there in my pocket, and two, I’m paranoid. You might think this is redundant, and you’re right. But redundant in the case of back ups of your work is not bad. It’s just good sense.
4. Evernote. I also store some projects on Evernote, especially ones that are in the editing phase. Then, whenever I’m stuck somewhere, I can pull out my phone and peruse, making notes as I do so.
5. Email. I know a fair amount of people who email documents to themselves to save them. I tend to go this route by accident: I email a file to someone else, which saves a copy in my ‘Sent’ folder. Not a bad way to go, though I find it cumbersome.
Extra Bonus Paranoia Points: Hard Copy. There’s nothing like a hard copy of your manuscript. But, unless you have unlimited space, you’re going to be limited to one copy of each. Even then, if you’re prolific–say, writing a blog three times a week–you’re going to need a big goddamn filing cabinet to keep up with that stuff. And then there’s the drafts, and revisions, and everything else. It’s a lot of trees to kill, but if you need a physical object in order to feel at ease, then do so.
Godspeed, little writers. May you never forget to back up, and may your hard drives remain uncorrupted.
*All right, maybe it’s a little about poop.
**A friend of mine had a little browser extension that replaced ‘the cloud’ with ‘my butt’. Yes, we are all twelve inside.