Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Which We Discuss Backup Methods

Once NaNo rolls around, I always see a lot of talk about backing up your work. In fact, I think NaNo has a national "back up your novel" day to remind everyone to do so. Not that it helps anyone who loses their novels before then (and I already know of one girl in my region who lost everything and had to start over)

Almost everyone I talk to says the same thing:

I email it to myself
AND I save it on a jump/flash drive so I am safe.

But are you?

I remember once, back when I still regularly read Murderati, one of the writers said he had added a good 10K onto his novel when he experienced some sort of corruption. The corruption erased the 10K not only from his computer and the jump drive but ALSO (and this is the kicker) in his Gmail.

So even though he was super anal about backing things up, his methods still didn't work.

Which is when he discovered the wonderfulness of Dropbox.

Which is, of course, when I discovered it as well.

Dropbox is a free program/website that allows you to save your documents or pictures or whatevs. You can download it on your personal PCs (it uploads a cute little box on your desktop) AND, it's also available online, so you can access your work on a public PC if you need to, no carrying around a flash drive.

One of the best things about dropbox, though, is that it SAVES PREVIOUS VERSIONS.

So if you make a huge change in your novel, save it, and then immediately have regret, well no worries. Dropbox has your older versions saved as well.

I've been using Dropbox for almost a year and I LOVES IT.

It offers so much space (though I'm sure if you upload a lot of photos your space could easily fill up) AND they offer even MORE space for every computer you download the box on. For example, I downloaded it on both my old and new laptop, and Twin's PC and I got an extra 250 MB for each PC. You can also earn more space by recommending it to others if you roll that way.

I have a few photos uploaded, but even with all of my writing stuff saved, along with our board game info and some stuff of Twin's in there, I'm still only using like 5% of the space.

So let's say I upload my novel on Twin's PC (why I'm using her PC, I don't know, but let's just suspend disbelief for the purpose of the hypothetical).
I save my novel in her dropbox and it is automatically updated in all my other dropboxes on my laptops.

OR, I take a fun photo and upload it to my dropbox. Instead of then emailing the photo to someone, I can just share the dropbox folder with them. They can open the folder and see whatever I have stashed in it.


I cannot overstate the awesomeness. Because the best thing about it is, I don't ever have to worry about emailing myself and saving my novel to a flash drive ever again. Which frees up more time, which I can then use to get more writing done.

So, are you still emailing and flash driving your work? Do you have a fun program like Dropbox?


Dan said...

I'll have to look into this Dropbox thing, not only for writing but also my vast pile of pictures.

Anne said...

that applause was great

yeah dropbox is pretty nifty for my work stuff

yokohamamama said...

Just downloaded Dropbox--thanks for the awesome tip!

Summer said...

I might have to do that. I save to a flashdrive, save to the hard drive of my netbook, and upload to Google Documents.

You're kicking my ass on wordcount! I need to fire up the engine today and have a mondo typing extravaganza. Maybe I should set a ridiculous goal, like 20k...

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Dan - yeah it's pretty awesome for pictures, especially if your pictures are too large for email

Anne - yeah i snagged it from Jezebel because everytime i see it there i crack up

Yokohama - any time!

Summer - yeah at first i was dubious, but now i am sold. It's so nice not to have to email it to myself or worry about losing my flashdrive (which i always did, sooner or later)

Yeah i forced myself to put in 2K yesterday. I really want to get a few days ahead, because i know i'll need it for the holiday

Lola Sharp said...

I'm such a loser...and thus far a lucky loser.
I only email it to myself.

I know, I know, but so far my macbook has been such a good girl (knocks wood), I've never *knocks wood* lost anything. I'm one of those idiots who has to learn things the hard way, I guess.

I bought a flash drive though, before last year's Nano...but it's still hermetically sealed, unused, lonely.

Maybe I should break it out and at least save my stuff there as a back up.

Catherine Stine said...

Hi Sarah
Stumbled upon your blog and I'm now following. Good post. I have a mac, and I save my work on email, memory stick, and an external drive. I've lost too many bits & pieces to take chances.
I'm doing Nano too. The hardest part for me is not editing each scene or chapter immediately after I write it! I posted on my blog about Nano (and a bunch of other writing concerns). Come visit if you like!

Maria Zannini said...

I am so paranoid about outside 'safe' storage.

I know the chances of them getting broken into is minute, but it still dogs me.

Maybe I watch too many spy movies. :) The bad guys always seem to hack into anything.

For now, I squirrel away my files on jump drives and my husband's computer and laptop.

I love the idea of DropBox though. So convenient.

Teebore said...

Alright, you've convinced me to try Dropbox. I'm paranoid about losing stuff (I have an external harddrive that backs up the external harddrive that backs up my computer).

If it's good enough for Charles Foster Kane, it's good enough for me.

@Summer: You're kicking my ass on wordcount!

I learned during NaNo last year that it's not worth trying to keep pace with her on word count. That road leads to crushing self-doubt and madness. Madness, I say!

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Lola - i mostly just emailed it to myself as well, because i was lazy. Dropbox lets me be even lazier

Catherine - this yeah i'm allowing myself to edit as i go, to try and prevent so many line edits later

Maria - meh, it doesn't bother me. Even if someone did hack in, why would they bother with my stuff?

Teebore - i think you'll like it. And if we're complaining about huge wordcounts, let's throw stones at those people who have over 40k

Patti said...

I'll definitely be looking into that, since right now all I use is a flash drive, which I don't think is totally reliable.

Teebore said...

And if we're complaining about huge wordcounts, let's throw stones at those people who have over 40k

I'm not entirely sure those are people. I suspect they're writing robots meant to discourage us foolish mortals.

Matthew Rush said...

You told me about this last time I talked about backing up, and I so want to use it, but I do a lot of writing on a workstation on which I do not have admin privileges to install apps (shhh). So far gmail plus jump drive works for me but this story about gmail getting corrupted sound like a horror story. ARGH!

The Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like a really good backup program! I usually copy all of my documents onto a DVD-RW to make sure I don't lose them.

Love the applause.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm so glad I hopped over here today, Falen! I have never heard of this, but I will DEFINITELY be checking it out! Thanks for the info. :-)

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Matthew - yeah i do a lot of writing on a public computer which also does not allow app installation. BUT dropbox also has a website, so anything i update on the website is saved on all my other PCs and vice versa.

Patti - many a flashdrive have i lost, and i also had one get corrupted. No thanks on that again

Teebore - damn skynet and their NaNoing robuts!

Eagle - ooh that seems smart. But i'm way too lazy to do that

Shannon - it is indeed pretty awesome

Hart Johnson said...

FREE online backup?! That really IS awesome! I email it to myself about every other day, mostly so I can print it out, as I have some typed and some handwritten pages, so it is nice to have a hard copy with everything, but the pictures and versions thing is HUGE! Thank you!

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Okay, first of all--HOW was I not following your blog? I know I've been here before, I swear I hit follow. So. strange.

Anyway, hi! Glad I've corrected the problem. And yes--LOVE dropbox. One of the WriteOnGirls introduced me to it because it's also a great way to share files amongst a group. We now exchange all important WOC stuff that way. So. much. better. But I never thought about using it to back up my draft. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing! :)

roxy said...

I do not have Dropbox, but I can see I need to get it. (The clapping-guy is awesome.)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll check into it. I currently back up on my laptop, external hard drive, and a thumb drive.

Shelley Sly said...

I've heard of Dropbox, but I've been one of those ignorant people who thought email + flashdrive = immortal. I'll have to seriously check it out now. Thanks friend!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this, thanks for the info!

KodasTotems said...

Maybe if I ever broke, like, 5000 words I'd think of something like actually backing up my stuff... Some day I'll actually be legit! ;)

Dora said...

The article of story was just like a speech.Everything was so great hands up to the author.I use both Dropbox and Safecopy online backup.They both work well for and they are so compatible with my computers mostly Safecopy backup.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Hart - you're welcome! I really like the versions things

Shannon - that is weird, since i know you've been her before as well. I never though about using it to share documents in a writing group - that's GENIUS!

Roxy - i love clapping guy. He cracks me up every time i see him

Alex - external hard drives freak me out

Shelley - yeah i was too, which was why i was so freaked out when i heard that story

Kelly - you're welcome

Kodas - LOL! all it takes is one time to lose something you've written to really sink in the "backup frequently" practice

Dora - ooh i've never heard of safecopy. I'll check it out

Eric W. Trant said...

I was using Microsoft's (there's your first clue) SyncToy to backup my stuff from my hard drive to a flash.

I've been doing this for some time, now, and I noticed a couple of weeks ago that my website info had been nuked. All my images were gone.

I made up some curse words, but no harm no foul because the good ones were on the website already, but dangit, I lost a lot of my working images.

No telling what else got nuked, so I checked my latest novel.

It had back-updated from the flash drive and over-wrote what was on the hard drive. In other words, I lost about three day's worth of work!

No biggie, I enjoyed the re-write and it probably needed to be done anyway.

Point is, BE CAREFUL with those backup methods, especially if they are ~synchronization~ methods. They check the time stamps and overwrite with the latest file, and also clear out files that are not in both directories (which is how I lost my website).

Now I use robocopy from the command line, like I always did before. MUCH more reliable than that dang SyncToy, though slower...

- Eric

Holly Ruggiero said...

About 8 or 9 years ago, I backed up every couple of months or so, then I had power outages – like 4 in rapid fire. It killed my hard drive. I had to pay a tidy sum to recover the disc (as much as could be recovered.) Now, I back up all the time to flash drives and CDs.

I also have several versions of my WIP. When I made significant changes I save it as a new file with the current date.

Talli Roland said...

I've heard about Dropbox, but I don't use it. I do email drafts to myself - in Outlook. Hopefully, I'll be okay! Thanks for the reminder, though.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Eric - wait wait. You ENJOYED the rewrite??!

Holly - me too. Once i start a serious revision, i start a brand new document

Talli - any time!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Holy moly, how did I not know about this??? Must look this up now. Is there a place where I say you recommended it?

DL Hammons said...

I use Dropbox as well and LOVE it!! I've used it for over a year with no problems and sleep soundly at night knowing my work is safely stored in 3 different locations!! Great post!

The Words Crafter said...

Never heard of Dropbox; I'll have to check into it. Thanks for the tip. I usually back stuff up with cd's and dvd's and flash drives....

Clapping Man is awesome, btw!

Jamie Gibbs (Mithril Wisdom) said...

SO MUCH of my stuff gets corrupted or lost so often. I am heading over to Dropbox RIGHT NOW and doing some serious backing up. Thanks for the recommendation!

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