I was a relative latecomer to the computer age. As a writer, I went from typewriter to dedicated word processor and my files were kept on floppy disk. Remember those? I also still have rather a lot of manuscript pages in hard copy from various projects of that era.
I didn’t begin to write on a computer until after the year 2000. I had moved in with a boyfriend who was a computer programmer and he encouraged me to use his computer for writing. Luckily I was slow to warm up to this idea because right after we got a second computer, we had a hard drive crash. Much of the data was recovered that time, at a cost. Little of it was mine apart from some first Photoshop experiments, using Photoshop 4.
Roll ahead to 2018. I’ve had three computers of my own, the current one hand built by my current geeky boyfriend. I refer to him and his grown sons as “geek squad” because they are all very computer literate and constantly after me to upgrade this and that. I’ve also discovered this useful gadget called an external hard drive, for backing up files.
Now, having seen a hard drive crash and the potential devastation it can cause once, I got in the habit of backing up important files, including my writing projects in progress and filmmaking files. Around May, 2018 some sort of upgrade had a risk factor and I backed up everything of any importance, just in case.
Roll forward again to November 2018…
There I was, just catching up on emails, and suddenly a weird clunky noise started coming from my computer. Like a good cyber user, I turned everything off. That probably saved my C drive. Over the next few days, I learned that my F drive, which was a physically separate hard drive, had completely failed. Something in the hardware of the unit had gone kablooie (to use a technical term) and the files were not recoverable.
Lucky for me, I had finished the latest book in progress and uploaded it. I had just finished an article and sent it. I had three short projects lined up next and had only just started one, a script. Three scenes that I can recreate. I had outlines for two short stories that probably would have changed dramatically as I wrote. The ideas were still fresh and I don’t normally work with outlines so it was a minor loss. A little work on an ongoing book project was lost, but the notes for it I had sent to myself from my phone. All my writing notes and ideas that I had sent over several months are still in the sent items of the email that is set up on my phone.
This could have been a devastating loss. Some work on a film has to be redone, but I could have lost all the files for that film and it would have gone permanently to project graveyard. As it is, it’s a minor annoyance. I recovered the files for the recent book directly from Amazon, got a new hard drive, and transferred over by backed up files.
If, like many writers, you have files for unfinished projects; ideas notes, relevant pictures and other materials, I strongly recommend keeping them backed up on an external hard drive. A crash can happen to anyone, anytime. Having the files on more than one back up is even better. I’m about to tidy up my writing files and put those and the film files, as well as sentimental photos and my music collection, onto a new external hard drive as my other one is a few years old now. I’ve also taken to emailing myself whatever I’ve written after every good session. I have a webmail address I can use as a dumping ground.
If a hard drive crash should happen when halfway through a full sized novel and all the chapters lost, it would be demoralizing. It was only luck that it didn’t happen to me. Don’t let it happen to you!
I’ll be making back ups more regularly from now on and using my email dump for recent chapters and such that would be lost in a sudden crash.
Make it your New Year’s resolution.
Don’t leave your hard work at risk!
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