Have you backed-up your Writing Files?

Do you regularly back-up your work or leave it to chance? 3:AM Magazine were temporarily off-line due to problems with their service provider and O2 customers were temporarily unable to make calls and access on-line serivces due to a technical fault.

What would happen if you found your blog was unavailable? Would you be able to re-create it with another provider or would all your work be lost? If your computer developed a fault and you were unable to access your files, do you have copies elsewhere or would you have lost all your work?

Creating back-up copies of work sounds tedious and time-consuming, but is necessary and, thanks to cloud computing, needn’t be overly time-consuming either. Consider these options:

  • Your ISP: does your ISP offer a back-up and storage facility on-line? Generally you’ll get a fixed amount of free space with the option of paying for more but word processed, text files don’t take up much room so the free option is probably sufficient. You may also be able to run the storage facility on booting up your computer so your files are automatically backed-up during your working session and you don’t have to think about it. This means your files are stored on your computer and your ISP’s servers.
  • On-line storage via a service such as Dropbox or ThinkFree Office. At the end of your working session, simply save a copy to your account. Usually it’s free to create an account and have a limited amount of storage with the option to pay for extra. Using these services means there’s a copy of your work on your computer and in your on-line storage account.
  • Email a copy to yourself. Not practical for files with hi-res images or videos, but an option for text files. When you send a file as an attachment, the email creates a copy. If you email submissions to editors, you’ll have a copy in your sent items folder anyway. So you’ll have a copy on your computer and a copy on your email client, via your ISP or on-line depending on which email service you use.
  • Save a copy to a flash drive. You’ll have a copy on your computer and a copy on portable storage, useful if you need to use someone else’s computer if yours develops a problem or you need to replace your computer or you temporarily lose access to on-line accounts.
  • If you write a blog or have a website, keep copies of your articles or pages in your word processor so if your blog or website goes down, you could re-create it. If you get into the habit of drafting articles on your word processor before uploading them to your blog or website, you’ll have two copies. If you then synchronise your word processor files with your on-line storage, you’ll have three copies (on your site, on your word processor and in your on-line storage).
  • Hard copies – if you’re submitting work to an editor who doesn’t take email or on-line submissions, print a second copy and keep somewhere safe (ideally a fire-proof cabinet). Of if you’re in the habit of drafting everything on paper first, keep your originals. Not as practical as an electronic copy, but it does mean if the worst happens, you can re-type your work.

If you haven’t backed-up your work and your computer develops faults, you may be able to restore some files via a computer recovery service. But why take the risk?

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