Methods of BackingUp Work

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Do you make regular backup copies of your work?

We all know how temperamental computers can be – one minute they’re working fine and then the next they freeze up and refuse to do anything. Usually the ‘turn it off and back on again’ method brings the machine back to life and everything is hunky-dory again but just occasionally the PC is dead and has taken with it folders full of precious work that can no longer be accessed – unless you have a backup copy.

Some of the more common backup methods to consider are:

  • External Hard Drives – this is a similar type of hard drive to that found inside your PC but it is mounted in a separate enclosure. It can be connected to your PC via a USB port or wirelessly. If you have an Apple Mac, an automatic wireless backup can be provided by a Time Capsule
  • USB Stick – very small, easy to use, portable device that plugs into a USB port – but they are known to have a limited lifespan.
  • CD/DVD – CD-R, DVD-R, and DVD+R can be written to only once but there are other types of disk that can be erased/rewritten.
  • Online Storage Facility – this allows storage of data on a 3rd Party server. This may require a manual copy of the selected files from PC to the server or there may be the option to schedule an automatic backup. An example of this is the BT Digital Vault.   
  • Email – set up a free hotmail account and periodically email work to this account. If your own computer is unusable, this email account and your documents will be accessible from any other PC. 

But before choosing a backup method there are a couple of questions that you should ask yourself:

  • Do you need a backup copy kept away from your home? An external disk drive sitting next to your PC will go up in flames with the rest of the house.
  • Do you regularly work on more than one PC – i.e. do you need an easy way of transferring your work in progress from one computer to another?
  • Are you saving a finished piece of work that won’t be touched again or one that is being constantly updated? 

As a computer professional I feel that I should be using a failsafe hi-tech backup method but actually I use a USB stick on a daily basis and periodically email my larger pieces of work to myself.

What backup methods does anyone else use? And have you ever had a computer disaster and lost data (or successfully recovered it from backup)?

  1. #1 by Bev Morley on June 2, 2011 - 11:48 am

    Hi Sally.

    I have learned the hard way that backing up work is essential! It was a long time ago (before I had done any serious writing) but I did lose a massive amount of photos and home video footage which is irreplacable.

    These days I have three methods of backing up my precios files – I use a Seagate Go-flex external hard drive for all of my work now as a “final” back up. For work in progress I use a 16gb memory stick. This also serves as a prompt for work I need to complete! (I have a lot of “un-finished” projects so saving them seperately keeps them in mind!). Finally I use the backup and storage facility offered by my ISP. With the Virgin Media account I have I nahe unlimited online back up and storage which is so easy to use, and reall peace of mind should my go-flex drive or pen drive fail.

    I’m so pleased you mentioned emailing items as a way of keeping copies – it’s such a simple solution but one I had totally overlooked!

    By the way, well done on your “Build your Blog” article in Freelance Market News, and also for getting the Star Letter in Writing Magazine! It’s good to see a familiar name in print.

    Bev x

  2. #2 by Bev Morley on June 2, 2011 - 11:51 am

    Gosh, I wish I’d checked my comment before I submitted it… I’ve spotted a couple of typos!! lol.

    • #3 by Sally Jenkins on June 2, 2011 - 1:16 pm

      Bev – I’m impressed by your belt & braces approach to saving work! But a shame you learned the hard way. We’ve just switched to BT and I’m about to investigate their ‘BT Vault’ which offers online backup.
      Thanks for letting me know that my article is in Freelance Market News – I’m not a subscriber at the moment so wasn’t sure which issue it would be in.

  3. #4 by Sarah Pearson on June 2, 2011 - 2:02 pm

    My other half’s computer and mine are connected in some way (shared network? Don’t know much about this stuff). Every couple of weeks he reminds me to copy any new work into a folder onto his hard drive. Wouldn’t help if our house burnt down though!

    I love the email idea, and I think I’ll start doing that with finished work. Thanks for the tip.

    • #5 by Sally Jenkins on June 2, 2011 - 5:36 pm

      Sarah – saving to your other half’s computer is a good idea. I expect most data loss is through computer failure rather than house fires (and occasional emailing to yourself will take care of that eventuality).

  4. #6 by Susan Jones on June 4, 2011 - 4:51 pm

    Hi Sally,
    Great post and extremely helpful, more vital. I have a few documents on disc but not enough. Should go through them all and put to disk. The email idea is good as well. Will make a note of this and follow it up. Well done on the letter and article. You can’t keep a good writer down.

    • #7 by Sally Jenkins on June 4, 2011 - 7:11 pm

      Susan – I think we all know we should be more conscientious about making back ups of our work but it’s so easy to put it off until later (and that might be too late!)

  5. #8 by ckandrew on June 5, 2011 - 8:46 pm

    AAARGH! Have you been reading my Posts on TB – about lost backups etc, I wish you’d written this first! I thought I was SO careful, too, hahaha, that’ll teach me.
    Other readers of this Blog, Digest this and act – or be cursing at some future date over lost files …

    • #9 by Sally Jenkins on June 6, 2011 - 12:28 pm

      No, I hadn’t seen your posts on TalkBack but I’ve just been and had a look. What a shame! For those of you who don’t follow the Writing Magazine Talkback Forum, Ceka had a request from one of the women’s magazines to tweak one of the stories that she’d submitted – but Ceka had only 2/3 of the story on her PC and no hard copy. She had to reinvent the ending completely!
      Fingers crossed they accept the new version!

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