You Do Not Back Up Your Work Enough

I live my working life – both day-job and writing wise – off a USB stick. It’s a necessity, ’cause I’m routinely shuffling between three or four different computers depending on where I am, and I like the option of being able to pick up and work on a particular project with an absolute minimum of planning ahead.

So you can imagine what a pain-in-the-arse it was when I dropped Shifty Silas the laptop last night and did this:

Broken USB image


USB sticks are not meant to sit at that angle, you know? This one was completely dead.

Fortunately for me, this wasn’t a huge deal. Silas is still working fine and I lost about an hour of work, which sucks, but isn’t as bad as it could have been.

But it’s a useful reminder: back-up your work.

I used to do a semi-regular post on my blog reminding everyone of this, usually timed to coincide with  the anniversary of the day when I lost every damn thing on my computer back in 2006.

That was a bad day for me. Really bad.

And mostly it was bad ’cause I was already one of those people who was convinced I backed up everything. I downloaded all my active projects onto a back-up drive once a week or so. I kept copies on my computer and the USB drive I used when I migrated between university and the office at home. I was one of those people who was all redundancies, motherfucker, I have them.

It didn’t help. My computer went kaboom – a smoke-coming-from-the-back kind of kaboom – and ’cause my back-ups were plugged in, they went with it. And ’cause I’d just moved house, I’d culled pretty much all the paper print-outs prior to packing, which meant I had…well, very little.

I wailed. I gnashed teeth. I called the university and explained the problem, ’cause at the time I was about a year shy of submitting my PhD and I’d just lost fucking everything: drafts; research notes; stories I’d been working on for the creative project. Everything.

A couple of months after that I closed the doors on creating new work for the Clockwork Golem Workshop, the micro-publisher I’d been working on for about two and a half years, ’cause I’d lost all of that as well.

If you’re a writer, a publisher – hell, anyone who makes their living off your computer – the simple rule is you do not back up enough. Even after the kind of catastrophic data-loss I had back in 2006, where I amped up my already-pretty-obsessive back-up procedures, I got lulled into a sense of complacency. I’m comprehensive enough that losing a USB isn’t going to do me too much harm, but last night reminded me that some of my off-site back-up procedures should probably be revisited.

  1 comment for “You Do Not Back Up Your Work Enough

  1. 20/04/2013 at 2:11 AM

    I can't remember, do you also have a cloud-based backup like Dropbox in the equation? Its usefulness is largely dependant on whether you have internet/wifi connection for the computers you work on, but another backup source is of the good.

    Need to go back up my media files when I get home.

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