19 April 2017

How Often Should You Back Up Your Computer?

I realize that this is not necessarily a post about writing, but a question many IT guys get to answer on a frequent basis. However, as writers we accumulate many files over the course of writing just one book, and without them we wouldn't be able to write and/or publish our books, articles, short stories, etc. nearly as fast.

I first contemplated this subject matter seriously while I was still in the process of writing my first military lifestyle book My Afghanistan Campaign Diary: Views of a Military Spouse. All too often have I heard the words from family and friends "OMG - all my stuff is gone!", but no one had backed up their information. I often worry about losing one of my manuscripts due to some sort of computer malfunction. Consequently, I began to back up my work at least once a day, utilizing several different methods, including external hard drives and USB sticks.

Consider where your business (and yes, writing/publishing is a business!) would be if all your data was lost due to a natural disaster or some other catastrophic event. Your list of contacts is gone. Billing records have disappeared. Financial records, family photos, manuscripts are all gone. Due to the importance of data protection, it is surprising to note that data loss remains a major problem.

However, natural disasters aren't the only threats that you should be aware of. System or hardware failure accounts for a significant number of data losses, plus software corruption, viruses, etc., and then, of course, there's also human error.

The only way to protect yourself against the loss of valuable data is by regularly backing up your files. It is recommended to backup critical data a minimum of once a week, preferably once a day. Many personal possessions can be replaced, but old family photos, for example, are irreplaceable in most cases. Knowing that there is a copy of your photos, financial records and tax files, personal documents, and yes, even book manuscripts, can be very comforting in the case of a crash, a natural disaster, or a spilled cup of coffee.

What do you do to ensure your work is safe? Which medium do you prefer? External hard drives, USB stick, discs (CD, DVD, Blue-ray)? Cloud server? Printed hard copies?

Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+.

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