Monday, July 29, 2013

Is Your Work In Progress Safe?

Question: What lengths do you go to to preserve your WIP so that it can survive disaster? I'm a computer systems engineer by day, so I have to deal with architecting backup strategies quite often, and I was wondering what the norm is out there in writers' land.

Do you copy your data from your computer to a USB stick or removable USB drive routinely? Where do you store your backup? Is it somewhere far away from your original copy? Do you test the backup to make sure the media isn't bad?

A few good practices that could save you tons of headaches: 

1). Set a schedule to backup your data to a remote location (usb drive, different computer, etc.). This way you don't have to worry about doing it manually. There are a number of retail applications that can do this for you, but I'd recommend the one that comes built into Windows (if you use Windows that is. I'm sure they make similar free ones for Macs, but I don't know...sorry). 

2). CHECK YOUR BACKUPS! Your data is only as safe as your last good backup. I'd say on a weekly basis, do a test restore to some temporary location. Make sure your restored data is accessible.

3). Regularly store a copy of your backup offsite. If there was a true disaster (flood, house fire, other natural disasters), 10 copies of your files won't save you if they're all stored right next to the original data. While there are online services that you can use (Carbonite, ZipCloud, BackupGenie) they can get pricey and convoluted. For simple backups I'd recommend Google Drive. It's easy and free up to a certain amount of storage space used. I would just use it in conjunction with other methods. This way, there's no single point of failure. For example, you'd lose access to your online files should you lose internet connectivity.

Sorry for rambling, but backups have saved my butt more times than I'd care to count. Make sure your data is safe! Any questions, please feel free to ask!

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim

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