Wow. I’m down to the last couple of these “Countdown to NaNo” blog entries. This one isn’t particularly about writing, but it is about something important when it comes to NaNoWriMo (or any big project really, but this series is ostensibly focused on the whole NaNoWriMo stuff.) I have one sentence of advice will definitely be useful. Trust me when I say that I’ve learned this one from experience:
BACK YOUR STUFF UP IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS!
Many of you are probably thinking “duh, that’s obvious,” but unfortunately it really, really isn’t. I was foolish enough to only have my 2011 NaNo saved on the hard drive of my trusty Toshiba laptop. Inevitably, I managed to screw up when it comes to battery management and lost basically an entire three hour write in session’s worth of words. Since then I’ve learned the importance of backups.
But it’s not just me. I asked for some people’s lack of backup horror stories on both the NaNoWriMo and Richmond WriMo Facebook groups, and these are a sample of the answers I’ve gotten (I leave them unattributed as I didn’t ask in time to ensure credit/blame was sufficiently apportioned and linked. If it’s your story and you want to be credited, contact me via Twitter or use the comments below and I’ll fix it)
“I experienced this horror during NaNo 2010. It was the first week and I was cruising, then one evening my computer ended a writing session by declaring it had picked up a virus and flashing the Black Screen of Death. My husband managed to resurrect it, but I didn’t realize that somehow I had disabled my writing program’s auto-save function…total loss was nearly 5,000 words. Somehow I came back and still won, but now I’m paranoid. Auto-save is always on the highest setting, and there’s multiple daily back-ups (another document on computer, USB drive, Dropbox, Google docs).”
“I almost didn’t graduate this year because of not backing up. I was required to make a web portfolio of experiences/essays/original sources, etc. from my education and discuss how they would allow me to make a “signification contribution” to the world. I was already in a tizzy over this since I’d been in and out of school over a period of 8 years and had all this emotional baggage. I was only about 40% done (and a week from my due date) when my cat was her usual jerk self and knocked over a glass of water onto my laptop one night. I was able to upload about 20% to dropbox, before my HD crashed, never to be seen again. Cut to me sobbing in front of professors, the Apple guy, old classmates and pretty much anyone I encountered. Luckily, my portfolio adviser was extremely understanding and allowed me to cobble together a shell of a portfolio from the random sources I had left and still graduate.”
“This very thing happened to me in college. I had just written a five or six page paper for a final, it was about 3 in the morning, and I decided to proof read after I got some sleep. I woke up about an hour before the paper was due and as I sat down to read the paper I could only find the first three paragraphs. Evidently Word decided that my paper was not good enough to save. I re-wrote the piece and turned it in a day late.”
“ I had a single USB and put everything on it last year. About halfway through November, I was going to a write in, forgot to remove the USB, and jammed my laptop in my bag in a rush. I heard a crack, but I didn’t have the time to check until my ride and I got to our destination. Yep. Nope. Physically damaged and no way to get back my 27000 words, my music… everything. I think I cried.”
“A few years back I was doing NaNo and I had an amazing night and wrote nearly 3000 words in one sitting. I saved and went to bed. Woke up the next morning and opened the document to find that it hadn’t saved the previous night. I spent three hours on the phone with some tech savvy friends and still couldn’t get those words back.”
So, as you can see there are definite downsides to not backing up. These days I save on my hard drive, on at least two flash drives (you might be able to spot them in the photo above), I also use Google Drive for a remote back up, and I email my words to myself after every session. I’ve become a little paranoid about losing words, as I want that word count to go up constantly.