“Backup” or “How Paranoia Saved My Life”

Once upon a time, an author lived in fear that her home would blow up the moment she drove down the street.

Well, maybe not that very moment. And maybe it wouldn’t so much explode as just, y’know, burn to the ground. In any case, it wasn’t so much the thought of losing her home and possessions that bothered her. Their destruction would be a grand nuisance, of course, but material things could be replaced (or stored safe in a fireproof box by her bed). What could not be replaced, however, were the many years’ worth of stories filed away on her laptop computer. If she lost her creative work, it would be gone forever.

Burning Computer

Terrified at the prospect, she made a careful habit of keeping a frequently updated “copy of a program or file that is stored separately from the original” on her USB flash drive, and was in fact in the very the process of trying to upload the latest edits of her upcoming novel when – without any warning other than its increasingly uncooperative moods, of late – the author’s laptop froze up, shut down, and has refused to reawaken ever since.

And that author… *solemn nods* …was me.

I shudder to imagine where I would be now if I didn’t have those backup files. I’ve wept hard enough for documents lost in the past that had nothing more than sentimental value. That’s got nothing on nowadays where, by some cruel twist of fate, I, a favorite target of the malevolent virtual force known by a select few of its enemies as the Technology Fiend, have my heart, soul, and potential livelihood bound up in cyber-whatsits. (Yes. Cyber-whatsits. That is how much I know about technology.)

Y’know what? Let’s not even depress ourselves by entertaining the dark fantasy of what might have been and, instead, celebrate our blessings.

The Wilderhark Tales” documents? Safe.

That day’s edits on Inspired”? Essentially dead; the computer-savvy people for hire weren’t able to recover a thing from the hard drive, and saw no way of its ever happening, unless I’m willing to pay through the nose for it (which, until I become a billionaire, I’m not). In any event, I had my weeks of progress up ‘til then saved, and was able to more or less recreate what I’d lost, thanks to my handwritten notes. (It pays to have hard copies of important stuff, too.)

The lion’s share of my novel drafts crafted over the last several years? Mostly safe, I think. I don’t yet have the heart to check my flash drive file by file and see which documents aren’t perfectly up to date. Whatever I’ve got, it’s leagues better than nothing.

I’ve no doubt that there’s plenty of not-as-vital stuff missing. Perhaps I should have, but I didn’t keep a copy of absolutely everything, and copies of some things didn’t get updated to the USB nearly often enough to be considered current. You ever hear the phrase “Only the paranoid survive”? Well, right now we’re dealing with a case of “Only the things I was especially paranoid about survived”.

So, the moral of the story?

If the file matters to you, KEEP A BACKUP! Do the USB thing, or put it on a disc, or e-mail copies to yourself – whatever works for you, I don’t care, I’m just begging you, as your internet pal who gives a darn about your soul: Do not let yourself live my dark fantasy.

This concludes my public service announcement / cautionary tale / show of gratitude to the Lord above for guarding me from a shattered heart (as opposed to a heart just kind of grieving a little bit for she’s not even sure how much).

If anyone needs to lament about a time the Technology Fiend did them ill, consider the comments section a shoulder to cry on.

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14 thoughts on ““Backup” or “How Paranoia Saved My Life”

  1. I am paranoid about this too. I use two different drives online, Box.com and Dropbox.com to store my work, plus I have a hard drive and some flash drives with backup data on them. Again, I’m paranoid, yes, but I would cry if something happened to my hard work. lol

  2. Flash drives. Legions of flash drives, email, Google documents, and all the copies I email to friends who never empty their inbox. None of it is organized, but I too have met the Technology Fiend. *gazes back at the field of dead laptops and holds her flash drives close* Glad to hear you saved the important stories.

    • Preservation first, organization later. (Yes, my OCD tendencies, you heard me.)
      It gladdens my heart to know you’ve survived your encounter with my arch foe. Carry on, my sister in arms!

  3. I’m doubly paranoid. I write on a laptop that is not connected to the internet, to avoid viruses. I save all my writing there and put it on a second computer that is connected to the internet, so I can e-mail it to myself.

    Now if only somebody else cared about these scribblings, my process might seem a little saner! Ah, one man’s trash…

    • Virus avoidance — always a good thing, if you can manage it! (I hope a virus wasn’t to blame for my hard drive’s crash, but I really haven’t the foggiest.)

      And never you worry about sanity. I posit that many of us writers get along just as well or better without it. X)

      • A hard drive crash you say? It sounds like a confluence of faulty thingamajigs and malfunctioning doo-dads. And a spritzing of sub-atomic destructurization.

        Sorry to get all “techie” on you. I know my computer expertise intimidates people sometimes.

      • Do you know, for a second, there, that almost made sense?
        Then you lost me at “doo-dads”.

        Ah, well. We can’t all of us be as technologically-minded as yourself.
        *maintains straight face*

      • I can diagnose any technical problem: If it doesn’t work, it’s “broken.” If I get mad and throw it in the trash dumpster, it’s “garbage.”

        Sadly, I have a lot of experience making these diagnoses.

      • If it’s running too slowly to be believed and cutting into my precious productivity, it’s “stinking junk” and “out to get me”. I’ve learned a thing or two, myself.

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