Backup or troubles (in your old kit bag)

Not me ... but it could be!

Not me … but it could be!

When I was a teenager at school, I used to enjoy teaching myself BASIC on their Sharp MZ80K computers. One day, the school bought an Apple ][. It had very good graphics (for the time) and new commands to learn. One of the new commands was PLOT. It allowed the programmer to draw a dot on the screen at a given coordinate.

I realised I could draw quite complex shapes by giving the computer a list of coordinates to draw. Being a geeky sort of child (but you worked that out), I bought an A1 size piece of graph paper and traced an image of the UK on to it. For the next three weeks, in my spare time, I transcribed all the coastline’s coordinates into the Apple ][. When I’d finished, the program I’d written drew an accurate image of the UK on the screen. I was very pleased and, more importantly, my friends were impressed. One told a teacher who came along to see my work.

I loaded the program I had previously saved on my floppy disc but, to my horror, I got an error (Bad checksum, if I remember). It meant that the work was lost … except I had backed up my work. I put in my backup floppy disc and reloaded the program. It also didn’t load. I was devastated. In an instant, I had lost three weeks of work. The teacher walked off laughing … but that’s another story.

One backup is not enough

It taught me a good lesson: One backup is not enough.

When I hear people brag (and it often is a brag) that they don’t backup their work I feel obliged to point out the error of their ways.

To make sure I don’t lose any of my writing (or anything else) I always do the following:

  1. Save my WIP each week as a new dated version on my laptop.
  2. Copy this file onto a flash memory stick.
  3. Email a copy to myself.
  4. Print out a hard copy, which I carry around with me.

If my laptop crashes, I have other versions elsewhere. If I delete a section I later decide I want, I can go back to older files to recover it. When the formatting messed up in my WIP, I was able to copy the style from a previous version and fix it (it’s also useful if you ever get into any legal challenges over plagiarism).

If you choose not to backup your work properly, you are choosing to lose it. You have been warned!

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