So you are a writer, right?

I don’t care what sort of writer you are: author of books, scriptwriter, journalist, columnist or blogger. You write.

The question is, do you backup your work?

My day job, for those who don’t already know, is in the field of IT – Information Technology to the uninitiated.

Let me tell you what happened to me a few weeks ago. I was happily working on my work laptop at home when out of the blue I was invited there was an attempt to blackmail me to “activate” a virus masquerading as a legitimate anti-malware.

It looked a little like this, but didn’t get this far on my machine.

FAKE malware

FAKE anti-malware

The kicker of some of these is you can no longer use your machine – AT ALL! Even if you refuse to activate.

The situation became more complicated, co-incidentally or not, when the IT hardware gurus couldn’t boot the machine up at all the next morning – the hard drive had crashed. Dead. As. A. Dodo.

There are many issues that can cause you to lose your work. Malware, hard drive crashes, your kids spill Coca-Cola on the machine or overclock the CPU and fry the internals. Really, it doesn’t matter HOW it happens, just that it happens. Your work is……………………………………. GONE!

English: A USB hard drive. This is made by Wes...

English: A USB hard drive. This is made by Western Digital and uses a mini B USB connection for both power and data transfer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The longer you go without losing any work, the higher the probability becomes that you will lose some. Some day. A little insurance goes a long way. πŸ˜€

This article is not about HOW to back up, as the options are many these days. Maybe your computer manufacturer offers a backup in the cloud option. There are external drives, USB sticks, other computers – the list is endless. The various blogging platforms have various different backup or export functions. I could write many, many specific articles. This article is to raise writers’ awareness of the probability of losing work and suggesting appropriate actions be taken that suit the circumstances.

English: A Sandisk-brand USB thumb drive, SanD...

English: A Sandisk-brand USB thumb drive, SanDisk Cruzer Micro, 4GB. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The manuscripts of my books are in four places, just in case. On my home computer, my work laptop, an external drive and a USB stick.

If you are an author, imagine you are on the last page of your tenth edit pass of your first best-seller and your computer suddenly ….. dies. Gone. Finished. What would you do?

You are contracted to write a regular column for The Age or The Hoopla – deadline is approaching. You’ve been researching for a week. Your computer dies one hour before submission. Are you happy? I’m guessing not!

Storage is cheap these days. Do yourself a favour and at the very least pop down to the local electronics store and invest in an external drive. Come back and copy those vital files.

Do it now!

If you have a horror story to tell of lost data, please share in the comments for everyone! πŸ™‚

12 comments on “So you are a writer, right?

  1. A lot of pictures we have now on a hard disk drive. Some of my memory writing is saved on a USB stick. Once I lost quite a few pictures when I accidentally crashed the computer. I was not happy about this!
    I find it a bit confusing that there are so many possibilities. But thanks for pointing this out, Robyn. I think about Information Technology I am pretty uninitiated. Luckily hubby knows a little bit more about it. πŸ™‚


    • Yes, Uta, today there are many possibilities. The cloud backups are OK for many, but personally I like to know where my data is and that I have control over it.

      I like an external hard drive, but of course they too can fail so it is worth checking that drive regularly as well. Some people get caught when their backup device fails (old, damaged, etc).

      Good to hear hubby is onto it for you! Your memory writing is important, Uta. You are recording such a part of history.


  2. Ack – that is my biggest nightmare. My life is on my laptop. I remember when my computer Black Screen of Deathed on me and I just felt…sick. Really sick. Luckily it could be repaired. Still need to backup though *shame face*. I’m going to by one of those portable hard drive things before I move!


  3. Scary! I have so many photos and other info on my computer, I’m glad you reminded me I need to back up my stuff.


  4. Thanks, not a writer of course. But some food for thought there. So once again thanks Robyn.


  5. Not exactly a horror story, but I did learn the hard way to be more careful about the backup — I’ve even ranted about it here: http://angel011.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/backup/


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