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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Back-up! Back-up!

   
Author Topic: Back-up! Back-up!
History
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Just a reminder to frequently back-up your work.

I'm in Los Angeles helping my daughter move and my bag was stolen. I can recover from the lost clothing and sundries, but my netbook computer containing all my writing these past three years was stolen (as well as my IPod, Kindle, and a rare book).

Thankfully, I last copied my files to a flashdrive two- three weeks ago. Even so, I've lost my writing (mostly revisions) of the last few weeks and, for the moment, my faith in people.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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MAP
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Yikes! So sorry. That is tough. Hope they catch the creep.
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rcmann
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Sonuva...you know. Been robbed. Know how it feels. Not good. Cursing helps a little. A shot of rum doesn't hurt either.
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Brendan
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My car once was broken into - destroying the lock but the only thing stolen was a bag with a single item inside it. A few weeks later the bag turned up on my doorstep minus its contents but with a note from a local Catholic youth worker, explaining that the youth that had stolen it now wanted to hand it back. The item inside never did get returned, but I couldn't help but smile at the irony. The item was a Bible. [Smile]
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pdblake
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Brendan, wasn't the youth worker technically aiding and abetting the crime by knowing who the theif was but not handing him in? or are things different over there?
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MartinV
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Brendan, you could actually make a story out of this. [Wink]
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Robert Nowall
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Maybe the thief handed the bag to him in confessional...
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Notwald
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I've started doing almost all of my writing on my iPad (largely because I have teenagers and the other computers are not reliably available). One unexpected benefit is that the app I use for writing (Notebook) makes it very easy to email whatever I've been working on. I just poke a button and choose email and off it goes to my Yahoo account. Of course, Yahoo could be at risk as well, but it's a step in the right direction at least...
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MattLeo
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I use a source control system for my work -- software that programmers use to keep track of revisions. This allows me to throw away sections of a story with impunity, knowing I'll always be able to check out the old version.

Of course, I still have to have a physical backup of the source archives. I do automated backup to a solid state drive on my laptop, as well as synchronize with a cloud-based file storage system. By synching two different machines with the cloud service, I have two live copies of my entire revision history at any time, plus the cloud copy (current up to the last save), plus an incremental backup on SSD. And I don't have to think about it.

If you're interested in the source control idea, the easiest software for a novice to use is probably Bazaar (http://bazaar.canonical.com/en/). The cloud service I use for synchronization is Ubuntu1 for Linux (which also lets me read and edit my documents on my Android phone). For non-linux users there's Apple's iCloud service for Mac, PC, iPod and iPad, which automatically does the synchronization for you.

The automatic operation of a cloud service is a big plus, unless you are very disciplined with your flash or CD-ROM backups. You can and probably should use such a service *over and above* your removable media copies. Suppose there's a fire in your house which burns all your copies of your work; adding cloud backup to your strategy means that you can get everything back up to the very last save in a few minutes.

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axeminister
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Google drive sits on my desktop.
I back up in there.
I suppose if someone stole this PC, they could muck around with it but I doubt they'd bother.

I'd change the password first thing and hope that did the trick.

Sucks hard, Dr. Bob. Hopefully you have some kind of app or something that will help trace the iPod. I know the iPhones do.

Axe

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Rhaythe
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Yuck.

All of my stories are backed up to a cloud every time I hit SAVE. If you don't have something for that, I'd recommend either Ubuntu ONE or the new Google personal cloud thingama whose name escapes me.

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History
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Thanks, everyone.
I'm still distraught at the lost hours of writing--since my writing time is so limited (and precious to me).

I'm a bit behind (out-of-date? old?) with all this new computer cloud stuff, but it seems this is something I need learn and set-up so I can have the reassurance of knowing my work is retreivable despite computer mishaps and theft. Is there one best for a netbook/notebook PC? Off to the store tomorrow to buy a new one.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. Matt, the source control program to track revisions sounds great, but it seems over my head. I'll download the link and take a look. I assume it somehow is compatible with MS Word?

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EVOC
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I use a Western Digital Passport Hard Drive to back up all my stuff. This way even if my internet is down and I can't get on the cloud, I have my stuff available.
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rcmann
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I like usb drives. My text files don't take much room, and I have no problem with saving all of my writing on one 8 gig hard drive. In fact, I work off the usb drive and use my pc hard drive for backup storage. That way I always have my files with me, either on a lanyard or in my pocket. Put I am cynical and paranoid.
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MattLeo
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Source code control systems can handle any kind of file. They provide additional capabilities for plain text-like files (.txt, .html, .docx) that they don't for binary files (images, sounds, word "doc" files), but these are unlikely to be of interest to writers (e.g., automatically merging differences after you've created alternate "branches").

Solitary writers will be interested in four operations: committing (saving a version with comments), tagging a particular version (optional since you can always go by your commit comments), extracting (getting a "scratch" copy of a past version), and "checking out" (like extracting, only the copy will be monitored for changes). Everything else is stuff you don't need.

I recommended bazaar not because it's necessarily the best source control system, but it's relatively simple and comes with a GUI that isn't hard to figure out.

Source control isn't a substitute for a backup. If your source archive is on your laptop, it can get stolen along with everything else. But if you have a backup of your entire source archive, you don't have to hunt through stacks of CDs to get that last version before you deleted a chapter you want back. No more accretions of near duplicate files with cryptic names either. You get one file, but with a documented history of changes.

I find source control encourages me to make radical changes in my manuscripts, because I know I can always get the old stuff back.

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Robert Nowall
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I liked diskettes, but they are, ahem, no more, I guess---at any rate, I ran out of them, and haven't been motivated to find new ones. I started putting all my word processing stuff on my computer, then backed it all up a couple months ago with / on a 32GB USB drive---or is it "flash drive?"

Either way, it backed it up, apparently---though there was much I could have weeded out and omitted and probably will next time around, 'cause it filled it up more than I thought it would...

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MattLeo
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Robert -- relying on just a file copy to a flash drive is not a good idea. Suppose your flash drive has Monday's backup. Tuesday your working copy is corrupted, unknown to you. When you back up on Tuesday night you've just overwritten your last good copy. Or suppose you keep your flash drive next to your computer. A fire breaks out when you're at work and both your working copy and backup are lost.

There are three rules I follow for important data:

(1) Never overwrite your last backup -- that means you need two or more backup media.

(2) Never have all your copies of data in a single location. You can keep a second copy of your backup in the cloud, or in the glove box of your car, but don't keep it next to your computer.

(3) Never overwrite a backup of a file you might need to restore.

Note you don't necessarily know when you have a version of a file you'll need to save, so regular archival backups are needed. For me, all three of these requirements are met by using a source control system that has two automated backups: to a solid state disk and to the cloud. This gives me complete security against disaster, file corruption, and revisions made under fits of questionable enthusiasm.

I use source control because I'm familiar with it, but it has many features of absolutely no interest to writers. It's not that bazaar is hard to use, but all the various bells and whistles might be confusing. For that reason an automatic incremental backup system with snapshot capabilities may server you better. Cross-platform examples would include luckyBackup (http://luckybackup.sourceforge.net/download.html) and JBackpack (http://www.nongnu.org/jbackpack/).

I haven't used either of these personally, but JBackPack is just a front end to the rdiff-backup engine which I *have* used and can vouch for. One of the nice things about that engine is that the latest backup is stored in a normal folder and file hierarchy; historical versions are reconstructed from a record of changes. The great thing about this approach is it makes grabbing the latest version of a file easy -- you don't even need the software. You can plop the flash drive into a strange computer, grab the file you need and go, just like a regular file backup.

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Robert Nowall
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I think I can live with backing up what I need and printing out what I really want to save. In the olden days I kept a carbon copy of my finished MS---but I wasn't worried that all my copies could be destroyed when Florida slid into the ocean.

I've lost some stuff---I particularly regret a diskette that scrambled and took my opus-numbers-and-submissions file with it---but I was planning on reconstructing it from other notes someday when I have time.

Aside from that, I'm willing to look into other forms of backup...

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History
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Just shoot me.

I was indecisive on which back-up service to try when I replaced my stolen netbook mid-June and have been saving my work at the end of the day to my email and Flashdrive.

But today my new netbook had a hard drive failure, after a productive day of 3000 words bringing me to the climax of my newest tale--before my daily back-up.

Tomorrow, I visit Geek Squad to see if they can recover my work (for a few hundred dollars). Then a new computer and a Carbonite subscription.

Stupidly,
Dr. Bob X(

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rcmann
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You can set your word processor to do auto backups. Or you can if you are using most of the mainstream word processors. Keep a thumb drive in one of the ports while working, and you can always have a 10-15 minute old emergency backup available, even if an imp get's past your defenses.
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MartinV
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I thought it was wiser to avoid the cloud because there may be copyrighs issues.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Get an external hard drive with automatic backup, and it will back up everything you do. You can also do manual backups to it.
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YNRedef
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My laptop's screen was destroyed in an accident recently. A truck merged into my car in the highway. Everything is backed up well, thank God.
All is well for the most part health wise.

More time to write *smile*
You never know when your things will go missing or etc. Best to back up asap

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