We spend a lot of time talking about craft, here on Magical Words. We also think a lot about process. I’m taking a step back today, to talk about the basics. In particular, I’m talking about backing up your work.
Earlier this week, I experienced a catastrophic computer failure. We’re talking no booting in any mode known to man, no access to the hard drive through any utility, permanent, utter, complete doom for my primary computer. You know, the machine I use to write my novels. My freelance work. Every single piece of correspondence with friends and family. My photos. My music. Everything.
I spent an hour or so discovering the terrifying extent of the problem. I waited an hour or so for my in-house tech support (a.k.a., “my husband”) to return home from his long day of work.
And within 15 minutes, I was up and running on my laptop, with every single document, email, photo, song ready to use. My current plan is to use the laptop as my primary computer, with an external monitor and keyboard when I’m working from home.
Okay, the transition wasn’t perfect. I needed to change the default on my trackpad, to accept “tap” as “click”. And I needed to train the Mail program to recognize a couple hundred already-received emails as Junk, not as real mail. I needed to download two free apps that I had on my desktop but had never added to my laptop.
But otherwise, every single thing went smoothly. I’m still on track to make my two killer-deadline April 1 projects.
And all of that was possible because of Time Machine (Apple’s automatic back-up software). You see, about three months ago, my husband noticed that Time Machine was *not* making clean, accurate copies of our computers; it had stopped doing so several *months* before. We panicked, and swore, and studied, and we realized that we needed larger storage disks for backing up. We bought two hard drives (not Apple-brand) and connected them up. We checked to make sure that Time Machine was running, and we ran spot checks over the next couple of week’s to make sure that it continued running.
Time Machine had a complete “snapshot” of my computer, current to 15 minutes before the crash.
You can bet that I’m using Time Machine now, on the new computer. And I’ll continue to do spot checks, to make sure that the backups are happening as expected. (I also email crucial files to my Gmail account — once a month updates of my novels (more frequently, if I’m pouring out words), and monthly or quarterly updates of our crucial financial records (the spreadsheets I mentioned in earlier posts, our healthcare expense tracking, etc. I don’t store things in the Cloud with products like Dropbox, because I don’t like the computer’s behavior as it reaches out for those files, especially when I’m working offline…)
So? How about you? Would you be able to send your writing to an interested agent or editor in an hour or two, if you got The Call? (Okay, if your writing isn’t finished, could you send anything to anyone? ::wry grin::) What steps do you take to backup your computers?