How and Why to Backup Your Work

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It’s tragic, but it will never happen to me. I’m safe. I’m too busy/too tired/too broke. We all have reasons to put off critical backup habits to protect our work, and we trust our lovable – if dated – technology won’t do anything too terrible to us. The sad truth is, you can lose all your work without warning, in the blink of an eye, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Here’s the why and how of backups you need to act on today.

A Cautionary Tale

So, about a week ago, I was in a meeting for a convention I run programming for. The meeting ended, and I tried to shut off my laptop, which had become more or less my entire life due to my roving lifestyle. It wouldn’t shut off. So I did a hard reset. No problem, right? Don’t panic, just play IT and ask, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

But it wouldn’t turn back on again.

I went to the higher powers (the technically savvy who charge for their services) and discovered over three heartbreaking days that essentially all my ongoing writing projects, saved articles, and application materials from the past five years had vanished. The hard drive had died in spectacular fashion, and it had taken my babies with it. I still have the hard drive, and maybe someday I can afford the nearly $1000 clean room process that may recover a few more scraps of data, but until then… yeah. It’s all gone. And just one little backup could’ve saved it all.

Below are the best and easiest ways to save your work. I suggest using at least two. Take my loss as a cautionary tale, and backup your work today.

Cloud-Based Data Storage

If you have Microsoft products, you may already have some free Cloud storage available. Take advantage of this. It’s secure, it’s free, and you can access it no matter what happens to your computer.

Lots of companies now essentially rent out space in the Cloud. Documents take very little space, and you can get a year’s worth of coverage for around $10. Shop around, find something that works for you, and make a small investment to prevent a greater loss.

The Good Ol’ Thumb Drive

Cheap and accessible, a thumb drive fits in your pocket and holds tons of data. Use one to backup your ongoing projects, save copies of all your finished projects on another, and keep them close. I suggest adding them to your key ring or clipping them onto a wallet attachment. The greatest shortcoming of thumb drives is also one of their assets: their size. Misplace a thumb drive and it’s a real pain to find. If it falls out of your computer bag at the coffee shop, you may never see it again. Still, thumb drives are cheap, you can keep some with a monthly backup in your desk and keep a daily-use drive on hand. They’re affordable enough.

Additional Options

If you want to go high tech, or you have the money to pay someone else to worry about your backups, there are premium products and services out there just for you! Companies offer full backup Cloud service that handles the busy-work of saving and updating files through patented software and sync toys.

You can buy a remote hard drive to back up your work, too. They serve as a secondary brain for your computer that you can unplug and plug in somewhere else at your leisure. Pricier than thumb drives, they’re bigger – both physically and in storage capacity.

Whatever your choice(s), implement them today, even if you have to dedicate your usual writing time to this housekeeping chore. Hopefully, you’ll never need them, but it’s always best to be prepared. Don’t make my mistake.

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