There is no excuse for not backing up your work on a daily basis. That’s right, a DAILY basis. You have a variety of options ranging from free to inexpensive to not really that expensive, when you break it down by the month. It is unbelievable to me when I hear that a writer has lost a manuscript in progress because they haven’t backed up in weeks. BACK UP YOUR WORK. Here’s how.
1. Set up an email account that you don’t use for anything but backing up your work. Never share the address with anyone. Use that email account to email a copy of your work to yourself EVERY DAY, every file that you work on. Cost: FREE.
2. Dropbox. It’s a service that allows you to sync files between computers and even different users. You only get a small amount of storage space, but it’s enough for manuscripts. Create a “private folder” for your manuscripts. Cost: FREE.
3. USB/Flash drives. These are the little drives that plug into the USB ports on your computer. You can get one for around $8 at Walmart. Buy two, because like any other hardware, they can fail. Every night, back up your work to both drives. Preferably, you should select the option that allows you to keep both files and rename one “Manuscript 2″ so that you have an archive of each revision of your manuscript in case your latest file becomes corrupted. Keep your USB drives in a safe place, such as a fireproof lockbox. Hey, it’s your work, it’s your time, blood, sweat, and tears, so yes, it really is that important. COST: $8.
4. External hard drives. You can get a small one for around $60 that has enough storage space to back up your writing, photos, and music several times over. COST: $60.
5. Online backup services, such as Carbonite and Acronis. For $60 a year, Carbonite will give you unlimited backup space for one computer. Acronis gives you 250 GB for $50, or $5 a month. The advantage to Acronis is that it allows you to back up from up to 5 computers while Carbonite restricts you to backing up one. 250 GB is probably sufficient storage space for most users. These online backup services encrypt your files and store them on guarded servers. The initial backup can take a LONG time if you have a lot of stuff stored on your computer. After the initial backup, the online services only back up newly added files and files that are changed…such as the manuscript that you’re working on. They also store multiple past versions of each file that is updated, in case your current version becomes corrupted. If your hard drive fails or your computer is stolen, you can access your files from any computer with an internet connection and recover them. COST: $50-$60 per year.
Please, writers, please, choose at least one of the methods above and back up your work. Don’t put yourself through the heartache of losing a book or books because you didn’t take the time to back up. If you can afford it, get an external hard drive or sign up with an online backup service and back up your pictures and music as well.