It seems like a fairly obvious point but I can’t tell you how many people I know (even writers or bloggers who make their living with what they type!!) who don’t back things up or have a plan in place if their computer crashes. And guys it’s scary.
We live in the age of the cloud. Everything can be stored, accessed, and reaccessed within the cloud. Its limitless amount of space allows us to store all our details, from our favorite books to our tax info to our cherished family photos to be accessed by us or by anyone we share with at almost any time.
But here’s the clincher: not everyone uses the cloud, or even backs up their lists of favorite books or tax documents or family photos going back two generations.
And imagine the horror and pain that would ensue if you tried to turn your computer on and found all of those important things to be…gone?
It almost makes me cry. I can’t imagine losing all the work I’ve put into my blog, my books, my personal projects, wedding photos, trip photos, the e-books I’ve bought, the courses I’ve taken, my old school work, short stories I never ever want to see the light of day. It would break my heart.
And it would break your heart too if the things on your computer that were most precious to you simply vanished.
So today, even though it’s fairly simple, we’re talking about backing up your work. And your whole computer for that matter. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of the how let’s hop into the why.
Why You Need to Backup Your Work
Your Computer Will Eventually Die – Yes, even if it’s brand new. Yes, even if you do routine maintenance. Yes, even if you backup your hard drive once a week. Some dark day in your future, your computer will kick the bucket, with no hope of retrieval of anything that was on your machine. Gone are your family photos! Gone are your Youtube videos! Gone are your short stories!
It will totally suck.
You’ll Want to Access Older Work – Do as I say and not as I’ve done…someday, really, truly, you’ll want to reread all those horrible short stories you’ve written. You’ll want to see if they can be salvaged or changed or heck, maybe even published! But you’ll never know if you a) don’t back them up somewhere aside from the computer you used three years ago or b) delete them while “cleaning up” your computer. Just don’t do it. Store older work on a hard drive or in the Cloud so it doesn’t take up space on your computer, but don’t get rid of it.
You’ll Forget to Consistently Backup Your Work – You can say that you’ll remember to move new files to your hard drive or Dropbox every Friday morning, but let’s be honest…how many of us will skip a week? Or forget to update the hard drive before leaving on vacation? Or will get distracted by the internet and put it off until the next week? Case meet point.
Now, here are a few options for backing up your work. I’ll admit, some are better than others and I haven’t used all of them. But it’s better to pick one and create a system and just use it as best you can than to not have a plan at all.
- An external hard drive – This is the main backup my husband and I use. Especially when it comes to important files like our wedding photos, my husband’s design files, my work files, and any ebooks or PDF’s we’ve bought and want to hold on to and have a backup for. It’s not the most reliable as we don’t use it as often as we should, but it works for us now.
- Automatic backup programs – There are a lot of these out there but I’ve heard the best reviews for Backblaze. Essentially, it’s a program that runs on your computer to keep your files backed up at all times. If you lose your computer, they’ll find it; if you need files sent to you in a zip file or external hard drive, they can do that. Plus it’s cheap! $5 a month is nothing to shake a stick at.
- Keep everything in the cloud – this is another tactic that my husband and I use a bit. I write every single blog post for The Lexicon Writing Blog on Google Docs. They’re organized and I can access them anywhere. I also keep lists, records, and other documents stored on Dropbox or Google Drive. There are plenty of options, but if you create something online, it will generally stay there.
What are your best tips for backing up your work?