Monday, November 9, 2009

Back-up your files!

I had a near disaster this year that taught me a very important lesson: Back-up your computer files!

One morning I tried to power up my PC and…nothing happened. After checking and rechecking several things and still not finding a cause or solution for my dilemma, I did what I do in any crisis. I yelled to my husband/hero for help.

Being a self-taught computer wiz, he picked apart my PC, exposing pieces I never thought should be seen by the human eye. After analyzing the insides for a while, he came to a horrifying conclusion. I had a corrupted hard-drive.

Though he assured me my data could be saved, I proceeded with hysterics (tears included). I thought of all I had stored on there…all of my stories, my research, as well as photos of my children…all gone! In the face of my hysteria, my husband remained calm. We went to three computer stores and all said the same.

“Yes, of course, the data can be saved. But the hard-drive is corrupted, so we’ll have to send it to a clean room for them to take apart to retrieve the data. Usually starts around $1500.”

Lucky for me, my husband had one last card up his sleeve. A very good friend (and another computer wiz) had offered to take a look at my corrupted hard-drive and managed to save every single piece of data.

I’d been lucky. Very, very lucky.

There are many ways of backing up computer files so you don’t experience the emotional drama I did. I’ll share a few of those with you.

Flash drives are easy to save info on. Simply connect the flash drive to the USB port to transfer your files. These are small, easy to travel with and can connect to any computer with a USB port to access your info. The negative side to using this method is storage space depending on how much you want to save.

Burning your data onto a CD or a DVD is another method. Easy to store and relatively inexpensive but again you only have so much storage space and they’re easily damaged.

An external hard-drive is a hard-drive that is separate from your computer and uses a separate power source. Prices vary depending on the amount of necessary storage space. This is an efficient and easy way to save your data.

These three methods are fine for backing up your files but what if something unforeseen occurs? What if a burglar breaks in and steals your computer, flash drives, CD’s or external hard-drives? Or what if a natural disaster strikes your home? Hurricanes, tornados, floods and even a house fire can do irreparable damage to your home, including your computer.

Online back-ups are available for those needing piece of mind. Some websites offer monthly/yearly rates to keep your data stored on their servers, easy for you to save and update. You can access these files from any computer because you’re going online to retrieve your data, not your hard-drive. They also have the option of automatically backing up your hard-drive without the need for you to initialize it.

Another alternative is to email the data to your own email address. Some people set up separate email accounts which they use for storage only.

You can back-up your files as often as you choose. Every hour, day, week, month, or even year. If you’re a writer adding a word count to your current manuscript on a daily basis, backing up your files everyday might be a wise choice.

How about you? Have you had the unfortunate experience of losing your data? What is your method for saving your files?


  1. Thanks for the very timely reminder, Tricia! Just a couple of weeks ago, a computer virus at work made it impossible to retrieve my files. Got me thinking about my files at home, particularly my stories. This post reminds me to stop putting things off.

  2. Very important info, Tricia. I had different versions of Norton battling each other and lost everything I put in for three days. Norton has off site storage and I purchased an external drive. But I still fear the dreaded black screne in the middle of doing an edit :)

  3. Pen: Computer viruses scare the heck out of me! I now use my laptop for writing only and NEVER hook it up to the internet...just in case!

    Michele: Buying an external hard-drive was an excellent investment. I was lucky enough to get mine on sale!

  4. I've had the nightmare of losing everything and then having to pay an enormous price to retrieve it all back. Now I back up twice a day. It's a program called Time Capsule for Mac computer and it's linked to all the computers in the house. Sure makes me breath easier, knowing I have all my worked saved on a backup.

  5. Hmmm...two good ideas. Right now, my laptop isn't hooked up to the internet. It has wireless access, but I never connect it. I could use my flash to transfer files from my desktop to my laptop and do that daily. Creature of habit - I bought my laptop for writing, but I still like to type on my desktop :)

  6. Twice a day is an excellent idea, Karen. Especially if you're writing or using the computer alot. Thanks for the comments, everyone! :-)

  7. This is how I lost all my istockphotos!!! It still makes me cry...