Well, shucks


I owe all of you an apology. 

Several months back, I posted here, crowing about an awesome cloud storage service I had started using.  It was called Dropbox.  When it works as it should, Dropbox syncs all your files, whether document, photo or music, and backs them up online every time you’re working.  I was thrilled to discover the service, because at the time I’d been backing up my documents by sending the latest work to myself in email before shutting down each night.  If I got sleepy and forgot to send myself an email, I ran the horrible risk of losing work.  Anyone who’s ever lost pages knows how miserable an experience that is.  My system worked well enough for me, but Dropbox seemed like a wonderful alternative.  I signed on, and came here to tell you all about it.  Many of you signed on as well, and I fervently hope that it has functioned as it’s supposed to for all of you. 

Last week, my computer caught a particularly nasty Trojan.  I wasn’t happy about it, certainly, but I wasn’t worried.  All my documents were on Dropbox, after all, so I could just work from the laptop until my computer got well again.  I logged on to see about setting it up on the laptop, and to my horror, found that my documents hadn’t been backed up since November.  I searched the help documents, but none of them seemed to cover my problem, so I finally emailed the support address.  A full week later, I received an email from Dropbox. 

‘Thank you for your support request. Recently, we have been receiving a high volume of support requests and haven’t been unable to get back to you within a reasonable amount of time.’

Okay, I can understand this, and I’m generally a patient person.

‘The volume of inquiries we receive on a daily basis prevents us from responding to all requests. Although requests from Pro and Teams users will be given priority assistance, we will do our best to get back to other inquiries when possible.’

Excuse me?  This sounds like you’re saying you can’t be bothered to help unless I cough up money to become a Pro user.  Surely you don’t mean that.

‘We will try our best to get back to you, however we cannot guarantee a response.’

You do mean it.

To my very great good fortune, the fellow fixing my computer was able to rescue all my documents  for me (because he’s a god. -smile-)  I’m returning to my old method of emailing to myself and saving on a flash drive.  If you’ve been using Dropbox successfully, I’m happy for you even while I am sorry for bringing you around to them.  This is exactly what Dropbox thinks of its non-Pro customers.  Just so you’re not going to be taken in by them the way I was.

So that I don’t end on a completely depressing note, we’re going to be at DragonCon next weekend!!  I hope we get to see some of you there.  Stay tuned here tomorrow for the latest news on where you can find us. 



16 comments to Well, shucks

  • Misty! I didn’t know they got saved!!!!! WHoot!!!!
    And yes, I too, have my files stored and double backed-up on an external hard and on a flash drive.
    Screw the cloud. (ahem)

  • marlenedotterer

    I’ve been using Dropbox for several months, although I don’t know if I learned about it from you. Since my desktop crashed a few months ago, I’ve only been using my laptop, so I haven’t had a chance to pick up my documents on another computer. Although any files that I share with my husband have been backing up. We’ve accessed them from both his computer and my laptop. I don’t know if sharing makes the backup more reliable, but maybe I should share my writing folder with him, too.

    I’m glad you were able to recover your files. It’s so awful when you lose them.

  • Don’t know…I do have dropbox, but…well…I’m leery of anything attached to the computer that goes to an online service for storage, just because I’m paranoid of exploits and such that might allow a hacker to rifle through my computer. Not saying it could happen or would, and though I think my work is good, I doubt everyone and their mother would want to steal it. Still, I rarely use dropbox for anything (someone a friend and I were working with talked me into downloading it for file sharing) and I always shut the program down when I’m not using it. Only recently have I started using it and it’s for the music a friend and I are working on. We needed a good way of sharing the files, which can get a bit large in certain file formats and the standard gmail account can only send 25 megs or less. I usually back up on a flash drive, external hard drive, and the laptop’s hard drive. Though I have thought about sending the work to myself as well, but there’s that paranoia again…

    That reminds me…

  • Dropbox isn’t the only service like that out there (although I do use it). There’s also: Google Drive, Sugar Sync, Box, Microsoft’s Live or SkyDrive (or whatever it’s called), and I think Apple has a similar service. I personally use all of these (though, with the exception of 2-factor authenticated Google, I don’t use them for writing. Of those, I think I like Sugar Sync the best.

    I also pay for a service called CrashPlan, that’s saved my cookies more than once. And I periodically back everything up on an external drive. (What, me, paranoid?) Super important things go on the SD card, since I have a slot built in to my laptop I keep one there for smaller, can’t-lose-it things (like writing!)

  • I’m so glad you got your files back! And I’m sorry to hear about Dropbox. My desktop computer and my external hard drive died recently, so I wanted to find a backup that didn’t involve hardware. I guess nothing is really safe. Back when I traveled frequently for work I emailed myself documents to save them because I didn’t trust the laptop–maybe I need to start doing that again in addition to the multiple flash drives I’m using now.

  • I tried Dropbox and Google Drive to sync my laptop with my desktop. GD did not sync fast enough (if I closed the laptop the changes were not showing up on the desktop) so I stopped using it. Dropbox seems to sync files pretty fast so I wonder what happened to yours. But I’ll start e-mailing myself copies of my WIP just in case.

  • So glad you got your files back, Misty. I had a computer disaster many years back, the year we were living in Australia, and I still haven’t fully recovered from that trauma.

    I have to admit to being leery of online storage as well. I know that it’s probably our future, but to me it’s a little like a public parking garage. It might be convenient, but I wouldn’t want to leave anything valuable in my “car.” I have a jump drive, two external hard drives, and two computers (a laptop and my desk top). I regularly save everything to all five devices. Not fool-proof by any means, but also fairly safe. And they’re all under my control.

  • Hepseba ALHH

    Good reminder about back-ups, Misty. Thanks. I usually use Time-machine with an external hard-drive on my Mac, but it’s high-time I email myself my files again. Local storage will not help me in the event of a house fire, etc…

  • Sorry to hear about all the trouble and I’m very glad you got your files back. Strange about dropbox–I’ve been using it four 3+ years with excellent results (though they recently had a policy change I’m leery about). I wonder if the location you were saving to wasn’t connected to the dropbox folder?

  • Ken

    First, I’m glad that you got your stuff back!!!

    I’ve got an old hard drive with a failed controller sitting on my shelf as a reminder not to put all of my eggs in one basket. Everything on the drive is still there (including a full length script), I’ve just got no way to get to it without spending lots of $$$ for a data recovery service. Lesson learned.

    I’ve had lots of good luck with Dropbox as well, although I don’t completely rely on it (eggs, one basket, etc). I also back stuff up to a flash drive that I use exclusively for backup. And I’ve got a second flash drive that I back up my backup to.

    Despite the seeming (seeming?) paranoia, it doesn’t take me very long at all to back stuff up at the end of my writing time. USB speeds are pretty darn quick (and USB drives are pretty darn cheap). For me, copying the WIP folder to not one, but two flash drives and Dropbox takes me about 2 minutes. I don’t know what you all are using to write with out there, so your mileage may vary. I’m using Scrivener for the PC and, for all I know, native Scrivener files may be naturally tiny compared to something generated by Word or something else.

    Be safe with your stuff everyone!!!

  • Lady Ash

    So far I’ve been doing all right with DropBox…and I really don’t have much of a sophisticated system for back ups. I wonder if I should invest in more of one, seeing as I’ve had an entire computer disappear previously only to find a copy of an entire novel hidden in my email.

  • Thanks, y’all – I’ve been blissing out for days since Ed (the aforementioned deity) said he’d been able to rescue the documents.

    Those of you who use DB, I’m truly very glad you haven’t had any issues. I don’t know why it failed on me. Every time I checked DB before the Trojan hit, it indicated that all my files were saved and up to date. So I can’t really warn you about what to watch out for. I just wanted everyone to know that when you need DB’s help, they’re likely to say you don’t matter to them.

    I appreciate all the suggestions. I’m at a super-level of paranoia right now, so I imagine I’ll be emailing myself and saving to a flash drive and maybe buying an exterior drive, too. -grin-

  • I use a Verbatim 4 gig USB flash for much of my work I use on a daily basis and haven’t had a prob (and yes, I just knocked on wood). I also use an HP SimpleSave 1TB drive (that’s actually about 930 gigs after other programs that make it work). For the most part I copy and paste the folder, tell it to copy and merge, and move on. I’ve seen some negatives on the SimpleSave, but (knock on wood again) I haven’t seen any goofiness from it. Maybe one day I’ll be able to get a micro-cortex nano-brain in my head and I’ll be able to jack in and download all my writing in there…then again, I’ll also want the best virus protection money can buy. Definitely don’t want to become flesh eating zombie by blue screen of death. How embarrassing would that be! 😉

  • I use Mozy (mozy.com) for some online backups, but unless you’re paying I’m sure they probably have the same lack of support if you run into problems. If you continue with the manual backups, you might want to look at SyncBack (http://www.2brightsparks.com/). You can set up scheduled backups and it will automatically sync changed files from one drive to another. I’ve been using it for several years to make backups of my important files (programs I write, code, data, gigabytes of photos, etc.) to 2 separate drives. I’ve never had it fail on me.

    It can be a bit overwhelming to set things up the first time, but if you make it through that it works great. If you choose to look into this, make sure you do a one way sync, from your source documents to the target. You likely don’t want to go back the other way.

    You should also be able to have it sync with a USB drive or thumb drive – you can run those syncs manually instead of scheduled.

    Even if you’re making multiple local copies of things, you really do want to have some sort of offsite copy. Even if you have a million copies on different hardware, if they’re in the same location they can all be lost in a fire. So, yeah, emailing it to yourself is a great idea if it’s not much data. Make copies on multiple thumb drives and keep those in different locations. I still recommend some sort of online backup too. The more backup locations you have the better. I think backups are an area where there paranoia is a good thing – assume failure.

  • I’ve been thinking about finding something that online backs up all my documents, because I pretty much do what you do (email stuff and put it on external hard drives). It’s good to know that Dropbox should be avoided.

  • Vyton


    So glad you got your files back. And thanks for the heads up on DB. I used it occasionally at work for a big project with huge files that couldn’t be e-mailed. After that I dropped the Pro status, but I haven’t used it much since. Now I don’t think I will. I use a flash drive for writing, but now I’m thinking I might need to increase the diversity a little. Thanks for this post.