This is a community service announcement

Stop what you’re doing, right now, and go back up your computer. Not just saving your on a zip drive, but actually backing your files up and keeping them somewhere far away from your PC.

I usually say this once a year in October to commemorate the computer crash of 06 that complete wiped out about seven years of work, including a bunch of stories and the PhD thesis I’d been working. Like most people, I thought I was safe because everything was backed up on my zip drive. Unfortunately, said zip drive was plugged into my computer at the time, so the power surge that wiped my PC out took the back-ups with me.

It was, needless to say, a very bad day. I cried for a while. Eventually I started throwing things.

This warning comes early this year because I just lost my second PC in three years. It just went “nope, done with this,” and stopped working while I was in the middle of typing. Fortunately, I learned my lesson last time, so all I lost with this crash was the work I’d done from the last few hours and a bunch of computer game save files that don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. At most, if it’d taken the zip disk with it, I would’ve lost about a weeks worth of stuff. While this is stressful – I was trying to hit a deadline for Gen Con Oz this afternoon – it isn’t the catastrophic loss the last PC death.

I figure a goodly portion of my friends list are writers. For the love of god, people, back up your files. Your computer isn’t as permanent as you think, and it truly sucks to be sitting there going “but, but, but” when the techie man tells you there’s nothing left.

As a side note – I’m broke and can’t afford to pay said techie-type people to tell me why the latest PC died and it’s well out of waranty. If there’s anyone local who’se got the know-how to poke at the parts and tell me why it’s gone, let me know and I’ll offer a) gratitude, b) um, whatever form of payment we can work given my limited means.

  4 comments for “This is a community service announcement

  1. 29/08/2009 at 4:37 AM

    Sage advice. I've been using Google Documents for works in progress, Dropbox ( for other working files, a regular external hard drive backup for my documents (and my laboriously tagged iTunes library), and the occasional big-ass DVD rip for a little extra piece of mind.

    I may be foolish to be placing so much faith in Google Documents, but I figure if Google goes down we're all f*cked anyway.

    PS. I haven't commented here before, and de-lurking to say I really liked your recent piece in _Strange Horizons_ and your piece in _Dreaming Again_, and the writing advice stuff you've been posting lately has made for fascinating reading.

  2. 31/08/2009 at 8:28 PM

    Thanks 🙂

    I'm kinda ambivalent about Google Docs, myself, but that's probably because I don't like having to be online when I write. I do think there's probably a good chance the publishing industry would continue without google, though (heck, given my thoughts on the google-books settlement, they might even be better off…)

  3. 01/09/2009 at 12:17 AM

    Google Gears allows you to sync your online documents with your computer… but yes, there's the niggling thought that your beautiful words (or in my case, not so beautiful words) are sort of suspended in vapour and could puff away at any moment.

  4. 22/09/2009 at 9:34 PM

    Did your computer get fixed? What OS are you running? I'm not very good at hardware.

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