There was once a little sign in my college computer lab that I thought was cute. That’s right: for aspiring writers who were too poor for laptops, we had these things called “computer labs.” And we walked barefoot to school in the snow, uphill, both ways. Also, there were pay phones.
The sign said “Save your work.” Then, a few lines below, it said: “Save it anyway.”
I like to use this advice whenever I step away from my computer and have saved my writing only a short while ago. I think “Oh, I’ll save it when I get back.” Now, it’s not like I go a day-and-a-half between saving material. If I lost something between saves, it would be aggravating, but likely nothing I couldn’t live without. But it would still be aggravating.
Case in point: a writer friend of mine recently had a computer crash. Unfortunately, hers was a bit more than “just aggravating.” Not only does she need to wait several months until she can afford a new computer (at a cost of several hundred dollars), but she lost some really important stuff. Her writing. Family photos. Things like that. We store more now on our computers than ever before: text, music, photos, and other media. That means we have more than ever to lose.
We’ve grown accustomed to things like auto-save (which only backs up your material to one source, such as your hard drive). Also, programs like Microsoft Word (which most writers use) typically saves a temporary file of your work in the event of a power outage, etc. But you still need to put your material in more than one place. It could be a flash drive, external hard drive, or a cloud (like Dropbox). I have all three. Yes, I’m paranoid. I fear accidental deletions the way Scarecrow feared a lit match.
So I remember the sign from long ago in the computer lab. And I “save it anyway.”
P.S. This also goes for any websites or blogs you have. Do NOT save them on the server. Yes, your server may claim it keeps a copy for you. But if something ever goes wrong with that server, you will be the one out of luck—not the folks who made you empty promises. Back your database up regularly and put it on your flash drive, external hard drive, cloud, etc. You’ll thank me later.
For “saving” you.
Have any agonizing data losses you want to share? How are you preventing things like these in the future?
(Top image by kodomut)