Saturday, March 03, 2007

Write It, Then Save It

You may be asking what this picture is all about. Well, it's me, staring at my computer screen, willing words to appear on it. That's where I do all my work now. No more yellow legal pad. No more Royal Selectric typewriter. Nowadays, it's computers all the time.

There has been a good deal of back-and-forth on some of the blogs lately about tools for writing. Much of it has to do with the writer's preference for a PC or a Mac. My very first computer was one I purchased for my medical office. It was an IBM clone, manufactured by a one-man company here in Dallas. I bought it and an instruction manual (long before the days of the ... For Dummies books) and put it on the desk with instructions to my secretary to learn how to use it. Of course, I had to become familiar with it, as well, but those were the days of typing commands into a PC from the DOS prompt--practically prehistoric in view of modern technology--so I quickly opted for a Mac when I bought my first personal computer. And I've never really regretted it, although I did mumble a few words under my breath about Steve Jobs until Apple finally came out with the OS X operating system.

Be that as it may, the big question for writers is, "How do you back up your work?" There are numerous programs available to do just that, for users of both types of computers. Then there's the expedient of emailing your work to yourself (or someone else) and letting it be stored on your internet service provider's server. Flash drives now allow storage of up to two gigbytes of information on a small gadget that's about half the size of a business card. Finally, there's the option of using a second hard drive, either mirroring your basic drive or using it as a back-up destination on a periodic basis.

My point is not so much that there are lots of ways to back up data from your computer. It's that it is mandatory to do just that on a regular basis. This goes not only for writers and other creative souls, but for anyone whose computer contains data that cannot be lost without a great deal of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Case in point: My iBook laptop was running a bit slow, so I made an appointment at the local Apple Store with one of their "geniuses." Now these aren't really Einstein clones, they're just men and women (most of whom look to me as though they're not old enough to vote) who have a great deal of computer knowledge. The young man who began fiddling with my laptop said, "Oh, you've got lots of old stuff on here." He began deleting things right and left, and by the time I left the store my system was as frisky as a young colt. Only one problem--he'd deleted an older version of the utility, Quicken, that I use for my banking records, leaving me with a hole in my data. Fortunately, between the ability to download information from my bank and the backup data I'd accumulated, I was able to restore it. But if I hadn't...well, you get the picture.

Recently, a well-known author friend suffered a computer crash. All her work was backed up, but she lost the jpeg files with all the covers of her previous books. On the ACFW loop today, someone was asking for help in restoring lost data. It's not an uncommon situation. You always think it will happen to the other guy. But, just in case it happens to you, I urge you to pick a method and regularly back up your work. Someday you'll be glad you did.

Now where did I put that flash drive with the latest version of my WIP?

1 comment:

One More Writer said...

You are so right about backing things up. And I've learned to back it up in at least 2 places, not one after some CDs I'd burned became corrupted!

I don't know what I'd do without my flashdrives these days. Computers are just too unpredictable.