A good backup system creates multiple copies of everything to prepare for whatever circumstances may arise while remaining convenient (which means you’ll actually use your system). Here is a good, solid, and fairly easy backup system to make sure you have a reasonably recent copy of all your work whenever you need it.
- Local backup: Use either an external hard-drive or thumb drive to keep local backups.
- Download and install SyncBack Freeware (Mac users can use the built-in Time Machine or Google “automatic backup software” to find an appropriate program — I don’t use a Mac, sorry).
- Set up a new backup “profile”. Select the folder you store your writing in, and a folder on your backup drive, and set to backup all files and all sub-directories. (The other option is to set up a “Synchronization” profile, which will keep the files in the two folders identical. If you accidentally delete a file, it will be deleted in your backup, too — this is not a viable backup strategy!)
- Don’t run the “simulated run”. A window will pop up listing all your profiles. Right-click the one you just created and select “schedule” to create a new schedule for your backup. Select the “scheduler” tab and enter a time to run the backup automatically. Since I leave my PC on all the time, I chose 4 am. Leave it set to “Daily”. Click “OK”.
Note: On XP, the scheduler needs your windows login to run. If you’re like most people, your PC has a blank password — make sure to allow SyncBack to override XP’s restriction against blank passwords. Your password is blank if you don’t have to login when you boot your computer.
- Your files will be backed up to your external hard drive or thumb drive (leave them plugged in all the time, by the way) every night while you sleep. If you need to recover a file, just surf to the external drive as you would open a folder normally.
- Remote backup I: Every week, burn a set up backup discs and take them to work or a trusted friend or family member’s house. Every month or so, burn a second set and mail them to someone you know in a different part of the country.
- Remote backup II: Use an online backup service like JungleDisk, Mozy or Carbonite. You can use Mozy for free if you have less than 2GB of files to backup — after installing the program, right-click it’s system tray icon and select “Configure”. Select the “File System” tab and choose the folders you want to back up. All these services will run automatically, making sure the latest versions of your files are saved.
With the exception of your CD/DVD backups, everything in this system is totally automated, which means you don’t have to think about making backups. If anything happens, you can fairly easily restore your lost files, whether from your local backup or from one of your remote locations — at worst, you’ll have to wait a couple days for your out-of-town contact to mail the discs back to you, and you’ll have lost up to a month’s work. That’s the worst case scenario — not too bad a trade-off for being able to salvage most of your career after a horrible disaster!
Posts in “Backup for Writers” series
- A Writer’s Backup Strategy: Part 1 — Introduction
- A Writer’s Backup Strategy: Part 2 — Local Backup Options
- A Writer’s Backup Strategy: Part 3 — Remote Storage Options
- A Writer’s Backup Strategy: Part 4 — The Complete Writer’s Backup System
- A Writer’s Backup Strategy: Part 5 (Bonus!) — FileHamster
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