A Serious Word on Backups…

Making a backup isn’t always enough – take it from me: go the extra step and make sure a) you’ve backed up what you think you have and b) it actually worked.

I’ve just come back from a ‘catastrophic’ failure of my desktop computer. Fortunately I had done a system backup 3 days before it happened.  Unfortunately what I *thought* it was backing up and what it actually backed up were two very different things.

A few words about my writing tools –

I use Scrivener by Literature and Latte for my bigger projects – it allows me to sort things out and since I never write those in order… it’s great for bringing everything back in line.

I’ve also taken to using Scapple, also by Literature and Latte, for my brain storming plot diagramming… stuff.

I also use Open Office on my laptop (which is running Ubuntu Linux since it’s last failure).  My netbook also runs open office since its has limited… well… memory, power… stuff.

This means I have a lot of non-standard file extensions running around and when I told Norton to back up all my documents in my documents directory, I thought I said ‘everything’ and Norton’s design said ‘all document-like files’ in the directory… so… my edits were saved, my word proofs were saved– but my Scrivener project file didn’t get backed up, my pdf proofs were lost as were the files used to build my writer’s platform.

The good news is, I can recreate most of it from older manual backups, and the ones I handed off to friends, so my rules of backups have changed to include those two keys bits.

The full rules are now:

  1. The more something changes, the more often you should back it up.
  2. The more important something changes the more copies you should make.
  3. Backup early and often
  4. Backup to an offsite location
  5. Make manual backups.
  6. VERIFY everything.

I’m in for a tedious effort to recreate what I’ve lost, but I know what I have to do.  Make sure you back up what you think  you’re backing up and that there is a good, restorable copy of everything you need.

Make it a habit and don’t grow complacent – remember software updates can change default settings on software.

Trust me on this.


May 19, 2014

  • I’ve gotten positively paranoid about backups these days. When I’m working on a project, at the end of every day (or every other day at most) I make a copy of it on an external drive, and every day before I shut the machine down I email myself a copy of my current file. Probably overkill, but better safe than sorry.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *