Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ye Olde Backups, Anyone?

Once upon a time, in the cramped tower of a dank English castle, the very prolific Duke de' Author was frantically working to protect his greatest literary efforts from being lost to the ages.

How, you might ask?

Minions, or “Scribes” if you would be kinder. Those Scribes were four brothers from the family “Drive”; -- Jump, Flash, Memory, & Thumb. They were of differing sizes and shapes, these drives, each perhaps rounder, or stubbier, smaller or larger than his brothers. They each were capable of carrying different loads, but they all served the same purpose. The good Count used them to create exact copies of his works. He then dispatched them to different locations, that they might not be all caught up together and destroyed in some act of catastrophe, malice, or more likely, simple duncery.

One did he send to his brother's home in the next town. Another did he send to his mother, to prove that he wasn't just up in his room goofing off all day and night. One he sent only to the other side of the castle, that he might be kept close in case of... well, you know, duncery.

Today those scribes have been replaced by the bits and bytes of the computer age, which makes them much cheaper to feed, though sometimes harder to keep track of. But, they are no less important. “Jump Drive”, “Flash Drive”, “Thumb Drive”, & their now cousin “Memory Stick” (There was some family ugliness. We don't talk about it.) Anyway, they are merely different names for devices that perform the same function; saving, storing and transporting copies of your work.

You'll find them at stores in town and online for anywhere from “free with purchase of” or $10 - $100. They can be personalized with your name, phone number and/or email address, which might help if you leave them in an airport. (Oh, yes I did, and TSA called me.) You might even want to put the name of the contents to be stored on them on the drive. It makes life easier after you've collected a few of them. For security's sake, you can find them with password and biometric (a thumb print) protection, to prevent access. (Yeah. The TSA one.)

They usually plug in to the USB port on your computer – whether MAC, or PC, Laptop or Desktop. (It's square, a bit smaller than two dimes stacked atop each other & is marked with a type of trident symbol. See the picture.)

Plug it in, give it a few moments to load itself and it will show up in your list of available drives. Then click on the files and drag them over into that drive. Make sure you copy, and not just “move” them. Now, remove the drive and put it somewhere safe. If you want to keep one nearby, great. (Did I mention duncery? )

However, be sure to keep a copy somewhere away from the others as well, say somewhere outside the house, just in case you experience one of those “Auntie Em! Auntie Em!” events.

One other important note for writers-- You might want to get in the habit of working from one set of files ONLY. Be sure to regularly save copies to your back up drives. You might also want to keep ONE copy of the most recent version, clearly marked. However, if you start keeping too many versions around, it is easy to find yourself with a dozen different versions of the work. Very confusing.

Also, back up drives are a great way to store and maintain copies of all your important documents.

For not much more than the cost of a coffee and a piece of cake, you can have peace of mind.

And hey, no scribes to feed.

As always, if you have a question or comment, please, drop me a line!

See you in Nashville


  1. Love it! Butch, you are a mentaller, that's not entirely bad news.

    Looking forward to your presentations at Killer Nashville.

  2. I highly recommend the USB flashdrives for back up. Do put your name and address on it should it get lost as mentioned. What I do is back up my writing on two separate flashdrives. I then put one away in one part of the house and the other in another part of the house. If for some reason one walks away, I still have the other. I am strict about backup and do it almost everday. It's fast and easy. I have a friend who once lost his entire book because his hard drive crashed and he had not backed it up. It's cheap. No need for a large capacity as text files are small. I obtained five drives all free of charge.


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