It happened—what every writer who depends on a computer dreads—a computer crash.
I was 700 miles from home, one week into a three-week visit with my daughter, 50,000 words and a year and a half into first novel, and halfway through a book-editing project that was due in 10 days. It would be two weeks before I could get home to my computer fix-it man and my backup computer.
But all was not lost, thanks to a little technological miracle called a flash drive. Since I’d backed up all my important files on my flash drive, I was able to plug it in to my daughter’s computer and complete my work on time.
WAYS TO BACK UP
Backing up your work is easy and inexpensive. And it doesn’t take much time if done regularly. Several methods are available.
* USB flash drive. This portable device, which plugs into one of your computer’s USB ports, will store up to 8 gigabytes (GB). Prices range from $10 to $150. About three inches long and less than an inch wide, it’s a wonderful device, especially for travelers.
* CD / DVD. Since most computers can burn CDs—and newer ones can burn DVDs—saving your work to a CD is simple and relatively inexpensive. Blank CDs are available in CD-RW (rewriteable; you can revise the files) or CD-R (non-rewriteable; the files are read only; you can’t revise them). You can find them in stores, online and through mail order catalogs for as little as 15 cents each (depending on how many you purchase at one time), CDs can hold up to 700 MB. At about double the cost, DVDs can hold about 4.7 GB.
* External hard drive. Prices range from $90 to $500. It plugs into the USB drive and offers huge storage space—up to 1 TB (terabyte—one trillion bytes).
* Online. There are two ways to save your work online. One is to email your files as attachments to yourself, using an online email account such as Yahoo, which now offers unlimited storage space. The other is to subscribe to an online storage service, which, depending on storage capacity, will cost you nothing or as much as $65 a month.
DON’T FORGET TO SAVE
And don’t forget to save documents as you work. It’s frustrating and irritating, when the muse finally hits and you’re pecking away, lost in the rush of creativity, and your computer freezes. To be safe set your word processing software to automatically save a copy every few minutes.
Fortunately, the problem with my laptop was an easy, inexpensive fix. But it was a timely reminder of the need to back up my work.
This article appeared in the November 2007 issue of The Word from the Springs, the monthly newsletter of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Volume 6, No. 11)