Drive) and always back-up my work before closing down at night. I also use a small flash-drive. My agent reads along as I write, so I have those emailed chapters of my manuscripts.
“I have a ‘go-box’ for emergencies. It holds the original copies of my contracts and all contact information for my editors and my agent and, if we were evacuated, would hold my external hard drive. Inform your agent and editor immediately if a threat exists or happens. If they know…schedules can be adjusted.”
Wayne agrees that backing up work regularly is the most important thing a writer can do. “I did lose a few chapters a few years ago when a tropical storm not yet a hurricane passed. I assumed the rain and winds would not be too bad, but I was in the midst of writing when the electricity went. I have an external hard drive, a flash drive specifically for my writing projects, and a Dropbox that I can use for back up. I’ve always been pretty anal about ‘being prepared’ thanks to my Boy Scout days. However, I always keep a current backup in multiple places, and I do a print copy of my current WIP. If all else fails, I have the copy to scan and convert.”
Barbara says, “I keep an offsite backup—on a memory stick—of all my manuscripts. I also try to keep laptops and tablets fully charged.”
Pamela states, “It’s so easy to forget to back up files when under deadline and writing into the dead of night. My experience with the hurricane reinforced my long-held belief that technology will often fail when you are under a deadline; thus, every night I back up my files on a USB device as well as email the files to myself.
I often send files to my critique partner, so I can access files through her. I have my Mac’s settings adjusted for Continuous Save mode. I recently bought a Time Machine capsule, and this article is reminding me that I need to set it up! I’m a bit leery about iCloud or Dropbox, as I worry about cyber security. I’m now reconsidering, as it would provide access to my files if my house was inaccessible. Finally, I keep hard copies of my manuscripts for months.”
Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson says, “I always take precautions. When I was much younger, a great part of this house burned (arson) and we lost a number of precious things. Now I keep a video of all that is in the house, especially rare books and antiques, for insurance purposes. Copies of special photographs are kept in the bank vault. But as for writing… “My main work computer is backed up to Carbonite, a remote storage facility. I do have automatic backup on my hard drive as well, in case of file corruption. As my computer is seven years old and cranky, I will often do a double save on my WIP—one to the hard drive and one to a thumb drive. The off-site backup is automatic, and runs every two to three hours. If the weather looks dicey, I copy the WIP to a thumb drive and pop it into the gun safe. Anything that safe doesn’t survive, I probably won’t either!
“When a book is completed and in its final form, I print out a copy (using reduced margins, single space and a reasonably small font printed both side of the page) and then copy the whole file, notes, early versions, etc, to a thumb drive. The thumb drive goes into the bank vault. The printed copy, along with a copy of the contract, goes into a binder, so if the computer eats anything or the thumb drive dies, I can either re-type (gulp) or have it scanned to have a digital copy. I also keep the files active in remote storage. I also have been known to email the WIP to myself…It does work in a pinch, but email accounts are so regularly hacked that I don’t like the idea of a WIP being kept out there. Paranoia? Perhaps... “As for advice to other writers—you cannot have too many redundancies: automatic backup on your own hard drive, off-site storage, CDs, and thumb drives, and whatever new the computer geeks can come up with, and failing all else, a paper copy of a final draft stored at someone else’s house. I cannot recommend offsite backup enough. It is incredibly cheap: $5 a month is an average figure, and there are some plans out there for free, though I’m not sure of what they offer. Once I started using remote backup, I had the most intense feeling of relief. What a bargain for peace of mind.”
NINC member Marianna Jameson also lives in Texas. “I have a portable hard drive that I can back up and throw in my purse. During the threat of bad weather, I back up during the day and take my laptop and the external hard drive with me—in a double Ziploc bag and cushioned with towels—when we huddle in our downstairs powder room, which is our tornado shelter. A lot of people use cloud-based storage for their work, which is great—until you are stuck somewhere with no access to it, or with dial-up access, or heavy local Internet traffic due to the situation, etc.” Marianna’s husband also stores a copy of the backed-up external hard drive at his office, swapping it out weekly for the most recent version.