I’m still pretty raw over the whole ordeal, so, without going into too much tear-jerking detail, I lost my ENTIRE manuscript last Friday. If you’ve never had this happen to you, good! I sincerely wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It feels a lot like losing a piece of your soul. That may seem melodramatic but trust me, I can’t even delineate just how MUCH it sucks to lose your story.
Of course, I took to my writer’s group on Facebook to express my absolute sorrow, and while I was met with many condolences, I was also met with many wonderful ideas of how to safeguard against this happening EVER again that I wanted to share with you.
E-Mail Your Work to Yourself
Probably of one of the simplest methods to backing up your work is to e-mail yourself a copy of your work. You can do this however often you feel is necessary, but I would honestly suggest doing this everyday after you’ve written. Even if all you did was 300 words, that’s 300 words you’re going to hate to have lost later. If you don’t trust that it won’t get lost in your own e-mail, you can always e-mail it to your extremely trustworthy Aunt Eunice whom you know won’t steal your work.
External Hard-Drive and/or Flash Drive
My husband purchased a 1 terabyte hard drive a few years ago and it was one of the best ideas he’s ever had. But the trick is to USE IT. I didn’t. Don’t make my mistakes. Like with the e-mail, save a copy of your manuscript to the drive regularly. I’m leaning particularly toward using a flash-drive because of portability, but I also have this bad habit of losing small things, so if you’re like me, might I suggest getting one that you can attach to your key ring with your house and car keys.
I enjoy Dropbox. It’s an easy-to-use site and app that allows you to store and share (optional) files, photos, videos, etc. They have good security features plus file recovery. But, again, you actually have to utilize it for it to do any good. *pointed look at myself* I also like it because you can link up with other Dropbox users and share/swap files. I used it for work and it was a hell of a lot easier than sending a million e-mails back and forth.
Set a Recovery Point On Your PC
In short, a restore point will allow you to reset your computer’s operating system to a certain point of your choosing–or to an automatic point that was set by your computer. So say your manuscript disappears into oblivion and you hadn’t been smarter than me and backed up a most recent version of your work in other places, you can use a restore point to get your story back, or at least the most recent version as of the reset point. For information on how to set a restore point on Windows, go here. For Mac, go here. And seriously, don’t bother asking me any technical questions because my dad may have been accepted to MIT, but I didn’t get those genes. I got the artsy-fartsy genes instead.
Save Your MS Under a Different File Every Time
One of the suggestions I got was to always save your MS under a different name every time you’ve written–WITH DATES. That way, if you lose one file, maybe an older (or newer) version will be there. It sounds a bit neurotic but I’d rather be neurotic than crying over my lost MS for two days again. This is when an external hard-drive or flash drive will come in handy so you don’t bog down your computer with tons of files, which is especially an issue on laptops as I’ve learned.
I used Google Docs a lot before I got Word. There were several suggestions to save a copy of my MS to Google Docs regularly. My only issue with this is I’m uber paranoid about my account being hacked and my story stolen. My husband and myself had our Amazon account hacked and our bank account drained of what little was in there in the first place so now I’m flat out petrified of it happening again with something just as precious. -.- I don’t know what would feel worse, losing my story, or seeing it published under someone else’s name? Because, you know, that’s EXACTLY why people hack e-mail accounts.
If Worse Comes to Worst – Pay Someone To Fix It
More than anything, people suggested I take my computer to someone tech savvy. Fry’s, Staples, Geek Squad, you name it. They also suggested this for when your system crashes, you spill something on or break your computer, or you’re the unfortunate victim of a virus. “The file is there, you just have to get someone who can find it,” is what they said. If you’re capable and willing to dish out the dough, this would be my first suggestion if you did lose your work. Even if they can’t spare your device/computer, if they can at least save your files, right?
Don’t simply rely on auto-saves and traditional file saves onto your hard drive for your hard-wrought work. Stuff happens. Life happens. Technology can be a fickle, unreliable beast. Be a better writer than myself and backup your work! Be neurotic and obsessive about it if you must. Better safe than sorry, because trust me, trying to rewrite 40k words from memory because you’re also a Pantser writer who doesn’t plan your novels beforehand is a right pain.