by Raelene Gorlinsky
It happens fairly regularly. I get an email or phone call from a distressed author. "My computer crashed!" Yes, this is an awful situation for those of us completely dependent on our computers to do our jobs - like writing and all its attendant tasks (research, communications, online promo...). So there is the immediate crisis that getting your computer repaired or replaced is hassle, expense, and delay to your work schedule. But it can usually be handled in a few days and with several handfuls of OTC headache pills.
But then, too often, comes the real core of the problem. "And I don't have a backup!" Either the author doesn't back up her files at all, or she does so only, oh, once a week or month. Which means that if her hard drive data is not recoverable, she has lost either her complete WIP or all work done since that last backup, which could be many thousands of words. And she isn't going to be able to meet her deadlines.
This is where I cease to be sympathetic to the sobbing writer. WHY didn't you back up your files? How can you possibly have any excuse for risking something so important to you, and what for some is your job, your source of income? You KNOW computers regularly crash. You're not a teenager, you're not allowed to have that "I'm indestructible, it'll never happen to me" attitude.
My whole laptop hard drive is automatically backed up to an external drive three times a week. And I email several critical files to myself at the end of every work day--the ones I absolutely could not live without for even a day. You can copy your files to a CD or a thumb drive or any other removable device. Or do the basic - set up a Gmail account and email your files to yourself there and let them sit in the archives. (Well, periodically purge the old ones.) There's no cost, it takes only a minute.
"My computer crashed and I don't have a backup" has become the modern version of "My dog ate my homework" and is just as unacceptable.
How frequently do you back up your files, and what method do you use?