Home » The Business of Writing » Never, Never, Never Lose Your Work!

Never, Never, Never Lose Your Work!

1 May 2013

From agent Rachelle Gardner:

I received a panicked email from a client—and this was seriouspanic. His computer had crashed and died; his external backup was corrupted. His manuscript—the one he’d been writing for months—was due to the publisher in a couple of weeks. And it was GONE.

Just…pffft. Gone.

All of his hard work. All his moments of epiphany, his late nights and early mornings, his flashes of brilliance and the hours spent rewriting the not-so-brilliant. Each little God-given nugget of wisdom, each carefully-placed word and sentence and comma. All of it just gone.

He sent his computer off to an expensive service, who made no promises but committed to extracting as many X’s and O’s from his hard drive as possible, to see if there was any semblance of a book left there. Weeks went by. Meanwhile, the writer was heartsick and grieving. He cycled through the stages of grief (repeatedly): denial, anger, bargaining, depression… although I’m not sure he ever really got to #5, acceptance.

. . . .

Finally, a miraculous happy ending. The document was largely recovered—albeit a messy, unformatted and incomplete version. And very expensive. But it was there. Phew! We worked out a new delivery date with the publisher. And the author could finally get on with life.

. . . .

The technology available at our fingertips is so easy to use, so inexpensive, so foolproof that there is NO EXCUSE to lose work to a computer problem, a virus, or an unfortunate airplane crash landing. (I had a client whose laptop ended up in the bottom of the Hudson when his pilot—Sully Sullenberger—landed the flight on that river in 2009).

Link to the rest at Rachelle Gardner

Passive Guy has owned personal computers for over thirty years, long enough to have lost important computer files in all sorts of unexpected ways. The result is a deep paranoia that he has translated into a backup system bordering on the obsessive-compulsive.

Local Backup

PG has two large capacity external hard drives (something like this one) attached to his computer. Mrs. PG has a similar setup for her computer.

Just having the storage capacity doesn’t mean you will use it, so PG and Mrs. PG each have an automatic backup program running on their computers. We use SyncBack, but there are others.

Every night between 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM, while we’re tucked into bed, SyncBack does a lot of work. First, it creates a mirror copy of all documents, photos, Quicken files, etc. A mirror copy is one that looks exactly like what’s on the computer at 1:00 AM. SyncBack makes a copy of Mrs. PG’s latest manuscript with the day’s additions and edits and replaces the one it made the day before. It does this twice, once for each of the two external hard drives. Another copy of SyncBack is doing the same thing on Mrs. PG’s computer, so that’s backups on four different external hard drives.

Next, SyncBack creates a cumulative daily backup of those same files. The cumulative backup adds today’s version of Mrs. PG’s manuscript to yesterday’s to the one that existed the day before yesterday, etc. That way, if Mrs. PG inadvertently deleted a couple of chapters when she was writing today, we can go back and pull up yesterday’s manuscript with those two chapters intact.

PG does two different types of backups – Mirror and Cumulative – for different purposes. The benefits of cumulative backups are fairly obvious. A file may be inadvertently deleted or corrupted without the damage being noticed for awhile. A backup copy of yesterday’s corrupted file doesn’t solve any problems.

However if the computer’s internal hard drive checks out, a cumulative backup with 200 different versions of several hundred or several thousand files is a nightmare to restore to a replacement hard drive or a new computer. For restoring a lot of files, you want a mirror copy of yesterday’s hard drive before it died.

In addition to daily local backups of key files, PG has SyncBack automatically make weekly and monthly backups. If a virus infects a computer and does dirty work for awhile, he wants the option to look back a week or a month instead of just a day. If something has gone hinky with the backup process and daily backups are corrupted, those weekly or monthly backups are valuable.

PG saves these backups on each of his two separate hard drives because no hard drive lasts forever. If one of the hard drives has problems and PG doesn’t notice it for awhile, he has the same backups on the other one.

This sounds complex, but all you have to do is set up your backup schedule on SyncBack one time and it runs the whole complicated structure automatically after that. The program will show you when it ran each of the backups the last time and flag any that don’t run correctly.

The local backups are PG’s front-line insurance. Because the external hard drives are connected directly to the computer, a lot of files or even the entire MyDocuments folder can be restored to the computer’s internal hard drive very quickly.

Readers will observe a lot of belt and suspenders stuff going on here. PG has had belts fail and suspenders fail at critical times in the past.

Remote Backups

If an earthquake happens and Casa PG slides down the mountain, those external hard drives will go along for the ride. Similar consequences will occur with a brush fire or a burglar. That’s why some of PG’s backup belts and suspenders are not located in Casa PG.

PG has a pair of small, portable external hard drives that look something like this. They’ll fit in a pocket or purse. You plug one of these into your computer with a USB cable and it’s up and running.

PG sees a couple of PG offspring once or twice a week. Before one of the offspring arrives, PG uses SyncBack to make a mirror copy of all the files he backs up each day on one of the small portable hard drives. It takes less than a minute. He hands the small hard drive to the offspring and the offspring takes it to his home.

The following week, PG makes another backup on the second portable hard drive and reminds the offspring to bring back the first hard drive when he comes to Casa PG. They swap hard drives and the offspring takes the latest backup.

Because PG has a million things to remember, he has a weekly calendar reminder tell him to make this backup.

Mozy – Mozy is a remote backup service. You go to the Mozy website, sign up for the service, install a small piece of software on your computer, spend ten minutes telling it what files you want to back up and it just runs.

So long as your computer is turned on and you’re not typing or surfing the web, day and night, every few hours, Mozy automatically makes a backup of your files and sends those files in encrypted form over the Internet to Mozy’s servers. It pops up a screen after every backup so you know it’s working.

If you lose a file, you log onto Mozy which looks like another hard drive that’s attached to your computer, navigate to locate the backup file and download it over the Internet back to your computer. It’s quick and slick and, in PG’s experience, bulletproof. (PG was going to say it’s foolproof, but fools can be so ingenious.)

Mozy currently costs $5.99 per month for an account large enough to back up almost any author’s files. Carbonite is a service that’s similar to Mozy, but PG hasn’t tried it.

Dropbox – In addition to Mozy (more belts and suspenders), PG uses Dropbox. Dropbox works a lot like Mozy, but it watches for whenever a file changes and automatically updates that file on the Dropbox servers. Think of Dropbox like another file folder. However, instead of those files residing only on your hard drive, they also live on Dropbox’s servers in the cloud. It’s a lot like Google Drive with a few more bells and whistles.

When you install Dropbox, it puts a little Dropbox icon on your desktop that you can use just like a file folder.

Dropbox is installed on all the desktop and laptop computers at Casa PG. PG and Mrs. PG keep all their document files on Dropbox. This means everybody’s documents are available on all computers. When Mrs. PG finishes work on her current manuscript and saves it on her desktop, she’ll find that same manuscript on her laptop. If she wants to talk to PG about something in the manuscript and enters his cave, he can pull up her current manuscript on his computer as well.

Essentially, Dropbox acts like a server that holds all the documents in PG World. The documents reside both on our local hard drives and in the cloud on Dropbox’s servers.

When PG gets a new computer, he installs Dropbox on that computer and Dropbox brings all of his files and Mrs. PG’s files into the new computer.

Like Mozy, Dropbox only stores encrypted files and has passed muster with lots of paranoid security types.

There is more overlap between features offered by Mozy and Dropbox now than there was when PG started using each of the services. He continues to use both for the same reason he does local backups on two different hard drives. If one gets dodgy, he has the other as a backup.

So there it is, a whole pile of belts and suspenders. At the beginning of this post, PG described it as bordering on obsessive-compulsive. Now he’s decided that he’s crossed the border but he still feels fine. It’s a more useful form of obsession than washing your hands all the time.

Describing the entire system makes it seem like an overgrown monster and it does cost some money (not a lot) to put together and maintain. However, it’s the repository of Mrs. PG’s current and past manuscripts together with all the publication files for her books and PG’s files for his clients and all the tax and financial information that government entities want you to keep, so the value of the data the backup system is protecting exceeds its cost by a vast margin.

PG hopes the information may prevent some author somewhere from losing a manuscript.

The Business of Writing

57 Comments to “Never, Never, Never Lose Your Work!”

  1. Amazon S3 is a great, inexpensive choice, as well. It requires a bit of technical knowledge, but one of the advantages is you can save your data to an external drive and then send it to Amazon. They’ll save it to your storage bucket and ship the drive back. The initial upload for backup services can take a lot of time and clog bandwidth, and this bypasses that altogether. Once Amazon’s transferred your data, you can incrementally back up your local files.

    • Agreed. The latest version of SyncBack Pro will save to S3. I haven’t tried out the process yet, however.

  2. I use Dropbox, and I’ve also emailed the files to myself on gmail. I trust Dropbox and other places to a point. Several years back, I used File Den. It wasn’t automatic like Dropbox, you had to actually upload files there. I used it sort of like Photobucket, but also had some documents there as well as photos, videos and mp3s. Unfortunately, they had a problem one day, and several thousand users lost everything. Of course, I was one of those users. Thankfully, I didn’t lose anything important and most of it I still had on my hard drive.

    Before Dropbox, I used Google Docs but I think now it would be GoogleDrive that someone would use.

    • I have a couple of Gmail accounts that I use almost exclusively for receiving email from myself.

      • Patricia Sierra

        Me, too, PG. I create folders for each book, then email my day’s work to myself for online storage. Easy-peasy.

    • Just a sidenote… Dropbox has been hacked 2 times that the public is aware of.

      Unrelated note… Everything that’s important to me (not just talking about writing) is in three locations: External HDD, Google Drive and Evernote.

      🙂

  3. “It’s a more useful form of obsession than washing your hands all the time.”

    I’m not quite as obsessive as you are, but have a decent version of the combination, including Dropbox.

    Timemachine (built in Mac backup) has already saved my bacon.

    PLUS, I don’t trust computers at all. I have PRINTED copy of every scene when I stop working with it.

    • You’ve opened up another avenue for my backup obsession to work on, ABE. 🙂

      • With my CFS brain, I don’t dare lose a word I’ve worked on.

        I trust the automatic stuff – and computers – up to a point.

        But if I’m ever really, really stuck, I can TYPE the magnum opus back in much faster than go through some of the machinations you’re talking about.

        That, and a number of beta readers now also serve as secondary backups.

        Humans can’t read 1s and 0s on magnetic tape (back in the day it WAS actually possible to see them on tape with some iron filings – very slow reading, though). Humans read black marks on white paper reasonably well.

        Except that the new standard on nutrition labels and pill bottles seems to be 3 point type.

        My thesis data was stored on paper tape from a PDP11; I transferred it to magnetic tape on a PDP11 on campus that had both; I then learned to translate from that to a UNIVAC literally BIT by BIT – so the internal representations on the two different machine would yield the same number). Ah, those were the days. And we’d never, any of us, go back. So much human time consumed.

    • Don’t forget to make a photocopy of your printed copy and store it off site. 🙂

      • That’s going too far, when you could:
        1) PRINT a second paper copy, or
        2) SAVE to a .pdf file which you then send to someone else. The pdf format is so the words are frozen. I think it’s reasonably stable.

        But yes, the basic principle is that there is no reason, in this day and age, to lose anything you write.

  4. I do something similar to the PG Offspring Offsite system, but instead I just take one of my two mirror drives to work every week and bring the other one back. My office is thirty miles from my house and in a fairly secure building. I feel pretty good about that.

    Ditto on Dropbox for cloud storage, although I can’t back up totally that way (or to any other cloud) because so much of my data is ginormous image files. But manuscripts, etc, is all backed up somewhere similar to your system.

    ETA: I should look into one of those ship-us-a-drive services. MacMiniColo is another one I have heard many good things about.

  5. I’m a Dropbox fan too and ensure all files are copied on to the various computers in my house. However, for manuscripts, there is nothing like having a printed off version filed away someplace, just in case. There was a time a writer had to rely on just a single hard copy and trust it never got lost in the mail or publisher’s returned it. Doesn’t bear thinking about. I think David Gemmell lost a manuscript that way.

    • Stephen King’s book Misery uses the irreplaceability of printed (typed) original manuscripts as a major plot device. Twice, in fact.

      • There has also been plenty of examples of authors burning their work in a fit of pique/depression/self-doubt and regretting it (I think Nabakov did this, but his wife saved the manuscript from the fire without him knowing). At least, with digital saving, there is always the possibility of getting it back, as this story shows, and saving those sort of writers from themselves.

        • Whenever I get into a fit of pique, I don’t burn my manuscripts. I just make paper airplanes out of them, scribble WHY? all over in black marker, and launch them into the wind. It’s more dramatic and it freaks the neighbors out. ;).

      • Also Hemingway’s famous “Lost Suitcase” of manuscripts:

        http://lostmanuscripts.com/2010/07/31/hemingways-lost-suitcase/

  6. Excellent article. I work with a lot of students and academics, and am shocked at how often they A) lose files because of various arbitrary reasons and B) have no – and I mean NO – backups. We’re talking people who’ve sunk years into a book that ONLY lives on a 4 year old Macbook that gets battered about like a Rugby ball, and then I get the shocked look when something happens to the hard drive…

    In terms of my own workflow, I essentially use two cloud-based services; Google Docs and Dropbox. I do most of my draft writing/collaboration editing via Google Docs, and find it invaluable in this regard. The biggest advantage is that not only can I view it on my portable Android devices – phone and tablet – I can edit it as well. I don’t do much editing on them…but I can if I want.

    The Dropbox account is for everything that isn’t a Google Doc – the cover art, the ebook files, the Word documents, the PDFs. Google Drive (where Google Docs live) can hold those, but the seamless way that Dropbox updates and shares the files makes it superior to GD for things that aren’t Google Docs.

    I also do an occasional backup onto portable/external storage. I’ve switched to using a solid state drive in all my computers, and while they are very stable, if they “die”, they’re dead, Jim. No taking them apart and recovering the data. So instead, I use a drive duplicator and, every so often, just pull my laptop’s hard drive and duplicate it to another hard drive.

    Because of this, I make my laptop essentially disposable. It can fail, get stolen, blow up, etc.. And all my critical data lives somewhere else. And the best part is, all of it is free. I’ll probably upgrade my Dropbox account to a Pro account sometime within the next year, but for now, I have all the storage I need.

    • I became a fan of multiple backups after being awoken by blood curdling shrieks at 6 AM one May morning during my freshman year at college. We stormed out of our dorm rooms, ready to interrupt murder or rapine, only to find that someone had just finished typing her entire final exam (due at 8AM) and had not saved it. The computer burped and all was lost.

  7. I know it’s pretty popular to hate on Microsoft products, but I have had really good luck with their free cloud storage program, Skydrive. There is also a paid version for more storage, but I haven’t needed it yet.
    What I like about it: My documents automatically saves to Skydrive. If you are using Word to write, you can either edit the document with the web version (for free–but I think it’s ugly so I never use it), or you can open it on your desktop and edit in your full version of Word (which is what I do). I used to have a complicated method of saving versions of my work, but not so much anymore. It’s been a time saver, and has kept me happy through two catastrophic computer losses in the last year.

  8. I have an iomega passport laptop (small, very portable) external drive, save to a folder on my website and up until Sunday used Amazon Cloud but will be switching to anything that doesn’t file sync–probably DropBox.

  9. Anyone who calls technology “foolproof” is immediately placed on my “do not take technology advice from this person” list.

    • James E. Henry

      Agree totally, Christopher. My immediate rejoinder to anyone who calls something “foolproof” is to tell them I’m not a fool, and I can screw it up. And I have on at least a few occasions.

      JEH

  10. I have an ever growing collection of cute USB-drives squirreled away in addition to the emails-to-myself gambit.

  11. I archive my first drafts on Livejournal and Dreamwidth (filtered to my beta-readers). Messy and painful to recover, but they’re there!

    I should back up to the local backup drive, though.

  12. Call me old fashioned, but I save everything on USB drives and for added measure, I print them out. Works amazingly well for me.

    • Be careful – USB drives fail all the time. I have a small stack of ones which will no longer read files on any computer, Mac or Windows-based.

      Never make it your only backup, and check to make sure the contents are readable regularly.

      • Thanks for the warning, ABE. USBs are not my only back-up. I print everything out often. As soon as I’m done with a chapter, I print it. Yes, I know that’s a pretty archaic way to back-up, but I’m a very archaic sort of writer. Hell, I write my first drafts by hand! I think Dean Wesley Smith would not approve. Oh, well.

  13. I keep my writing in Dropbox which is on my Mac and iPad and use a local backup of the Mac via Timemachine and offsite backup via Crashplan, which I highly recommend. Crashplan works on OS X, Windows, and Linux. There are TimeMachine alternatives outside OS X.

  14. You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many backups.

  15. Wow, wonderful information – both from Rachelle and from you PG.

    I’m off to go back-up stuff.

  16. The ABA recently recommended Viivo.com for encrypting data stored in Dropbox. Haven’t tried it myself, so I can’t give any personal recommendations.

    • TrueCrypt also works fine.

      Any documents you keep in a TrueCrypt file located in your DropBox folder will be backed up in encrypted form. Most of the files in my DropBox folder aren’t sensitive (manuscripts/articles/photos), but I do have a TrueCrypt file where I stash anything sensitive.

  17. I back up to an external drive, USB drives, and I also email several friends–in several different states–current versions. It’s free off-site backup.

    And of course, I print out at least one copy of the entire novel during the writing/editing phase. I find that you edit differently on hard copy than you do on the computer.

    I learned the hard way about saving frequently when I was a budding young typesetter in the early 80s, before the DTP revolution. I was nearly finished inputting a long and boring Town & Country manuscript (three hours!) when the power went out and I lost every word, because I had forgotten to save.

    I’ve never lost more than a few paragraphs ever since. And almost never lose those, either.

    If you don’t make it a habit to back up your work, you will lose it one day.

  18. I have a redundant system. All data is automatically written on two hard drives. If one crashes I still have the other one. I set up this system after I once managed to fry a hard-drive. I didn’t lose much and no important work but just the idea of what could have been lost gave me nightmares.

    In addition to that I do weekly back-ups on at least one external harddrive and all current work is also stored on at least one USB-stick.

    Finsihed work is also printed out and stored in an old-fashioned file folder. As much as I like the idea of a paperlless office I also like pulling out a folder and leaving through my work, seeing the words actually printed on paper.

    I’m still shying away from using online-solutions but am planning to look into is, so this article is a great starting point.

  19. I used to store my remote backups on my Yahoo mail accounts but Yahoo and GMail accounts are not secure and it made me nervous to have my entire story collection there. Dropbox is also not secure. So I deleted my stories from those. Now I use the Transporter (just launched a few months ago). Remote or local backup, private, secure, no monthly payments, awesome. http://www.filetransporter.com

    I also backup to an external hd connected to my computer via Time Machine for the Mac, and of course a USB drive (although I keep misplacing those things!). I’m considering getting a secure USB drive but so far, the hassle factor outweighs the security. I’ll back up more if it’s easy. If I lose one more USB drive, though, I’ll suck it up and buy an encrypted one.

    • Almost every cloud service has had some security problems, often associated with poor password selection/usage patterns. Unlike others, Dropbox offers an optional two-factor security system if your nervous. I don’t think most users believe Dropbox has any significant security problems inherent in its design.

      If someone is really concerned, it’s not difficult to set up a Dropbox folder that incorporates a Truecrypt encrypted volume inside for either all your files or some of them.

      • Thanks, PG. Transporter isn’t a cloud service, really. I think of it more as a private cloud. It replaces what you’re doing with your offsprings–meeting them regularly and handing them your files. You can just buy Transporters, leave them at their houses and upload your files via the web to the devices at their houses. You basically have a private hard drive that you can access remotely (and can share with other people if you invite them).

        I was on a writing vacation when I started using mine. I couldn’t find my USB stick and thought I had forgotten to pack it. I just got online and backed up onto the Transporter at home. I love it.

        Yeah, I should start encrypting stuff but it just seems like one more thing between me and backing up. It’s on my to-do list. I’m a lazy backer-upper so the easier the better. 🙂

  20. There are two kinds of computer users: those who have lost data in the past and those who will lose data in the future.

    Always back up your work.

  21. I use sliksvn.com which allows me to backup versioned copies of my files from any location that I have TortoiseSVN installed. This way if I need to see an older version I can get it. This is from my days as a game programmer who needed to be able to go back to older versions. There is a learning curve involved but once setup I can access my files from any computer.

  22. I lost a hard drive with all my project files (graphics, but same principle) and stupidly had no current backup. Cost about $1800 to get 98% of the data back. So now I’m a little OC with backup as well.

    I have four different backups running on four data drives attached to my Mac server, both clone and incremental. Just this year, three older drives failed (all were about five years old). No problem: just insert a new drive, copy over from the clone, and good to go.

    For my server and local machines, I use Time Machine on each (to grab the system folder, apps, etc.), Carbon Copy Cloner (to dupe each project drive each night), Retrospect Server (bargain price from ebay) to get an incremental backup of work in progress twice a day, and Arq Backup, to graph a daily of all the work drives and copy to Amazon S3 using my PC and Cloudberry S3 Explorer (free and excellent). And then, when a project is complete, everything gets copied to DVD and stored off-site.

    Costs about $30/month in S3 fees and a few dollars for DVDs.

    Tried out Amazon Glacier, which is low-cost, but files are less accessible (4-5 hour wait for retrieval) and there are more fees if you delete files before 90 days. I’m discontinuing Glacier.

    I sleep a little better at night.

    • Wow. I only understood about 1/5 of what you just said. 🙂 But I like your DVD idea for completed projects. I think I’ll add that to my backup routine. Thanks!

  23. Oh yeah! Dropbox user and multiple flash drives, which are mobile, stashed and updated regularly. I killed a laptop last year and although the harddrive was intact and all the data recoverable, I was still glad it was all redundantly stored on other sites. I just couldn’t access it for a few days until I got a new laptop.

  24. http://backblaze.com — Cheap remote backup ($50/computer/year), and it works.

    http://macrium.com — Get Reflect if you have Windows. Make the recovery disk. Make an image of C: on an external hard drive. I know this works too.

    I have a swarm of hard drives. Two of them mirror data drives and two of them contain incremental backups. Images of C: go on these drives, alternatingly.

    Oh, and I use Syncback too. http://www.2brightsparks.com/

  25. Excellent topic. I did a post two weeks ago on the same subject, aimed at users interested in slightly more advanced DIY recovery methods: http://jamiesedgwick.blogspot.com/2013/04/author-tech-protecting-and-restoring.html

  26. PG, with paranoia like that, you must be an excellent attorney.

    I can vouch for Carbonite. It’s $59 per year but it backs up continuously whenever you have an Internet connection running. Hands free. Peace of mind. No children necessary.

    Probably not your cup of tea. 😉

  27. I did an unscheduled backup in the middle of reading this article. Just reading it made me nervous about losing data, and I have had some experience with that in the past.

    Currently I use TimeMachine to backup my entire system to an external hard drive. I have a smaller mobile drive I use only for my writerly things, including a flash drive for spot backups of smaller work and current WIPs, and I use Dropbox for offsite storage.

    I use Evernote for blog entries and storing research info and it synchronizes the data offsite. I use Scrivener for writing, but I wish they would offer the same sync service as Evernote. I still back it up in the usual way, but it would be cool if I could sync Scriv docs between devices. It’s not a train smash though.

    Come to think of it, I could make PDF versions of all my work and email it to my Amazon cloud drive. That could work too.

    But I don’t have any printed backups. Damn!

  28. I use both Mozy and Dropbox. Of the two, I like Dropbox best because it makes it easy to sync my documents across multiple computers. This is nice when I’m out of town and using the laptop.

    I also store manuscripts in gmail, although I don’t think it’s necessary to mail them. I just put them in a draft and save the draft.

  29. Well, I just made sure to backup the current projects. Which is a good thing, because I hadn’t backed up in about a week and I’ve been very, very productive recently. I think I’m going to start archiving finished books w/ all file types on dvd’s, too, since somebody mentioned it. Nothing quite like a little paranoia to make sure you have everything!

    I use Dropbox for just about everything, especially since I dualboot between Windows and Linux. It’s super convenient to be able to just click on an icon and open my files in a completely different operating system. I just started using Google Drive so I haven’t decided if it’s worth it yet, though I think having redundant backups of important work can’t be a bad thing.

  30. Two internal backup drives (one for mirror copies, the other for stuff I backup personally), one external backup drive, which lives in my small fireproof safe when not in use, my laptop serves as another backup source, and I use Dropbox.

    Plus, I burn DVD copies of my writing, etc, and those also reside in the fireproof safe, until I fill it up, then they’re boxed up and put in storage off-property.

    I have CD and DVD backups running all the way back to 2000. =)

    • I used to think two internal drives, with me copying important stuff from one to the other as part of my normal routine, was fine.

      Then I had a power supply failure which burned out the electronics on both drives (along with the motherboard and some of the plugged-in cards, and let out a lot of the magic smoke). I managed to recover one drive by swapping the electronics board with an identical-model good drive, but couldn’t do that with the other (which had some unbacked-up stuff on it, but nothing critical). Lesson learned.

      Glad to hear you keep stuff external too.

  31. Up until I was burgled last December and had both my desktop and laptop stolen, I used Skydrive and iCloud. iCloud, I subsequently discovered, had not backed up ANY of my important stuff. Even the Apple support team told me iCloud was utterly useless. Thank God for SkyDrive! It took it almost 10 hours to get everything onto the new computers but at least I recovered all my data.

    I now use Crashplan, Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive. I also email myself important documents like final MS, even before the burglary.

    There are so many options available out there and there will be plenty more to come, I’m sure.

  32. I use Acronis for backup to an external hard drive, and it seems to work like your system does, completing a set of chain backups.

    I use Skydrive for manuscript or other critical files. It’s similar to dropbox, but because I’m an Office 2013 subscriber, it works seamlessly with my system.

    I’d like to have something offsite to do a full backup, so I’ll look into the options suggested in the article and in the comments.

    Thanks for posting this!

  33. THANK YOU! I’ve got a Passport but I never remember to use it. So I just downloaded Drop Box. It’s a start.

  34. I use Carbonite to automatically back up my entire computer to their cloud – it came in handy when I bought a new computer. I just called them and within a minute all of my files, in their folders etc, were on my new computer.

    I also use Dropbox, and I also email myself using a gmail account every two thousand words or so. That way I can access my document (in every stage) from any computer!

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