Why You Should Always Back Up Your Writing

Before computers, it was pretty common (though no less infuriating) for writers to lose their work. Ernest Hemingway lost a suitcase of all his early works. Both copies of Russian scholar Mikhail Bakhtin’s The Bildungsroman were destroyed. Sylvia Plath’s Double Exposure (also know as Double Take) “disappeared” after her death.  Lord Byron’s memoirs were burned after his death because his friends were afraid it would ruin his reputation. As for John Steinbeck, his dog ate an early draft of Of Mice and Men.  

Although some writers stick to using pen and paper to write their masterpieces, most of us use computers to create and store our work. Because of this, our works should be secure from being lost, right? Right?

That’s the exact false sense of security you have until your computer crashes and you lose the only copies of your work.

Last night my computer wouldn’t start. I did everything I could to get the dang thing going. While I was doing that, I was in a panic because the ONLY final draft of Madness is saved on my computer! And then there’s my new novel I’m working on in addition to older works I’ve done. In other  words, all my important documents would be lost and there would be nothing I could do to get it back!

Luckily, my computer started up again and I immediately found a flash drive to back all the important stuff up. Crisis avoided!

But my mini heart attack serves as a good reminder as to why you should back your work up. Although computers, hard drives, and flash drives can be lost, stolen, or crash, you should always have a backup so you don’t have to go through the pain of losing your work. I would even suggest having a back up for your back up in case something happens to that as well.


2 thoughts on “Why You Should Always Back Up Your Writing

  1. I have my primary copy of my work on the local hard drive, a backup copy on a external drive, and usually a working copy a flash drive. I also periodically burn a copy of all my critical files to a CD and store it. I’ve also taken to emailing copies of my current work in progress to myself. If this looks like paranoia, it’s justifiable paranoia– computer systems are mortal, and hard drives, while usually reliable, can suddenly pack it in for no discernible reason. That’s quite aside from the possibility that your operating system may suddenly go south or you could have a massive malware infection.

    One other thing– at least the US, if you go through the formal process of copyrighting a work, you nowadays have to submit an electronic copy of the work, which is stored by the copyright office. Just extra insurance, as far as I am concerned.

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