A TV commercial shows three men watching the news on an iPad they got from Dish Network when they signed up for the Hopper. The action starts in the kitchen, where the men listen to a female news anchor announcing that the kitchen may be the most dangerous room in the house. In the next scene, the men have moved to a tree house when the same anchor reports that a tree house is even more dangerous than a kitchen. The final scene has the three men under a bed and the anchorwoman saying, “Think you’re safe under a queen-size bed in the guest room? Well, you’re dead wrong.”
We can never be totally safe, and neither can our manuscripts. Still, documents have an advantage over people because text can be in several different places at the same time.
So what is the best way to back up your manuscripts?
Each solution has its problems. In the long run, the best response is to make sure you have a backup that is likely to survive if the original is lost.
Last week’s post mentioned the problem with storing the hard copy in the same office as the computer. If the computer crashes, the hard copy survives. But if there is a fire, both copies are gone.
One solution is to back up your manuscript to a thumb drive and carry it with you at all times. If you burn up in the fire, you probably won’t care about your unfinished book. But if you get out, your backup copy will, too. Of course, this isn’t always a good solution. Imagine taking a flash drive into the shower.
Or you could keep the thumb drive in your safe deposit box. Practical for completed manuscripts, but less so for your work in progress. Still, as long as you switch out the flash drives often enough, you will have a recent version to start from.
Another solution is to e-mail yourself a copy of the manuscript. Then it will be available on your e-mail server if something happens to your original.
Or you could back it up to a “cloud,” which may be similar to what happens when you e-mail it to yourself. As a non-techie, I don’t understand this concept very well. I have heard people say they don’t even keep a copy on their computer because they can always retrieve it from the cloud. But what if you lose Internet connectivity? And if your “cloud” is located on a remote server, it could crash. I have even heard horror stories about the government “seizing” servers operated by service providers who are suspected of encouraging copyright violations or other illegal behavior.
So what is the best way to back up your manuscripts? Do whatever works for you, but keep these two principles in mind:
(1) make sure you have at least one copy besides the “original,” and
(2) keep them far away from each other so that the same disaster won’t affect both.
Even though our manuscripts can never be totally safe, good planning can minimize the possibility of loss.