Writely Advice: Back it up!

I not only write fiction, I also write tech articles. I’ve been writing technology-based articles for nearly fifteen years and during that time the one thing that always shocks me is how many people do NOT back up their data. As writers, our data is our life. Imagine the horror of spending months on that new manuscript, only to have a disaster (a broken hard drive or fire) take it away from you. To prevent this type of loss you only need do one thing — back up your data.

I want to outline my personal method for backing up my data. I use a three-pronged approach to backups that will ensure I can get to my data regardless of what happens. Here’s how it works.

I use three different methods of backup:

  • Local to external
  • Local to DVD
  • On-line

The backup tools I use for local backups are:

The above tools are Linux-based tools, but you can find similar tools for your platform (SyncToy is a good one for backing up to a hard drive). Just google “backup software” and find one that fits your needs and budget.

Now, what I do with the above is this:

  • Backup to external drive: This is on a schedule and done daily.
  • Backup to DVD: Obviously I have far more files to back up than will fit on a CD, so DVD is required. This backup is done monthly and then I put the latest back up in a safe location (outside of my home).

As if this weren’t backup solution enough, I also keep everything in constant sync using Dropbox. Dropbox is a free tool that allows you to sync as many computers as you like to a cloud-based storage system, up to 2 Gb. If you want more than 2 Gb, you can pay $9.99 per month for 50 Gb. Dropbox has the added bonus of allowing me to access all of my synced files (those in the Dropbox folder) from any machine that is connected to my account. It’s a brilliant (and very reliable) means of both synchronizing and backing up your data.

But, to add recursiveness to this web of backup solutions, I also backup my Dropbox folder with both my daily and monthly backup jobs. So should something tragic happen with the Dropbox servers I still have a backup. Plus those files are saved on the linked machines anyway. So currently I have a Dropbox folder synced with three computers. So, with 100% certainty, should something happen to my computer, I could get my data back quickly.

If you learn anything from my regular Writely Advice column, please let it be to backup your data. I hate hearing tell of writers loosing their precious work. Don’t let this be you.