Thursday Tips & Tools | HELP! S.O.S.


HELP! S.O.S (Save Our Stories)

We all have had this at one point or another…no I am not talking about Writers’ Block

nor am I talking about instructions on head massage over SKYPE or a G+ Video Hangout…

The thing, you thought would never happen to you has happened!

Your hard worked over WIP is lost not to mention all the countless hours of research. You may have updated a program and through a glitch all your work in the old program was lost. You may have spilt your necessary mug of coffee all over your keyboard and the machine fried. You may have opened one of those hilarious forwards from your Aunt May and it spread tentacles of a dangerous virus right throughout your system and all your files have been wiped clean or deleted. No matter how it happens, it happens to every writer who works with a laptop/computer. If it has not happened to you yet, do not think you are one of the lucky ones, it will happen and it will also happen at the most inconvenient time. You have just got to a crucial point in your WIP that unveils the whole twist in the story’s tale. You may have just typed end on your final edited draft but not yet transferred it to any disk-key or printed it yet. Whatever way it happens, it spells disaster. Yes I hear you say….”It’s ok. I back-up.”. When was the last time you backed up? What did you back up to? Did you back up right before the computer/program crashed? Did you back up to an email folder on your computer or even an alternate folder on your computer? Now, before rushing off to back off, I need your attention for just 5 minutes more. I just need to tell you one more thing…

DROPBOX

You see I tell you all the above because I speak from bitter experience. But what is experience unless we can learn from it. This has happened to me twice. The first time was a disaster because although I did backup, the backup folder was on the same computer that crashed. I lost everything. Research, articles, the WIP’s, emails and yes I lost the backup too. It all disappeared into a dark vortex of hot lava when my computer was fried from onboard chargers on an international flight. The worst thing was that I had over 800 brand new photographs from my trip which I was planning on sifting through when I got home for a travel article. The disaster was out of my hands in this instance. A clever IT guy managed to get a lot of it back but the most important stuff was frizzed and burnt out when all the electrical components in my laptop were fried by the onboard chargers.

Then after much pulling out of hair and stamping of feet and many french translations, I took a deep breath and bought an Apple laptop. (All of my previous had been Windows PCs.) Then I started backing up to external sources and I got very pedantic about backing up. I backed up before exiting every work session. I am still a tad on the obsessive side with backing up.

Then this year I found Dropbox at a friend’s invite in my inbox. When I read up on it, I was skeptical of using an online storage facility. How could I be sure nobody else would access my documents/research/photographs. So I ignore the invitation and then I had a second scare hit me with a program update that unfortunately deleted all my work. Even though I had it all backed up externally this time, it still took me hours restoring it. So what happened? I didn’t wait for the third disaster. I accepted the dropbox invitation and signed up immediately.

Ever since then, fingers crossed, with no third disaster I am breathing easily. I am not saying nothing else will go wrong. It might. But now I know that all my documents are safely uploaded and updated to dropbox. It is even done automatically. Once you have loaded up a document to Dropbox, every time you make changes to or update it, the document is automatically updated in Dropbox. Dropbox is online storage but it also lives in a little window on your finder or explorer on the computer. So you do not even need to open up the online storage to view the folders there, you just go to the dropbox folder on your own computer. With dropbox you can also synchronize all your mobile pda’s, iPads, netbooks or iPods to the same dropbox folder. This in turn will synchronize with your main computer/laptop. So wherever you write and whatever you write on, it will be both backed up and updated to Dropbox and will also immediately be available on your main computer as well. You can back up practically anything to Dropbox: documents, images, graphics, music, you name it and you can back it up. Dropbox is now so popular that many word-processing programs have a dropbox option that will sync with your dropbox.

Your work is also 99.9% safe. (There is no such thing as 100% safe.) It is also very secure. Your account is password activated. You can then also put different passwords on each of your files that you upload. If you wish to make the work public, there is that option too. Also if you wish to share something with a colleague or another writer or just share some images/music with friends and family, you can create a shared folder that is also password activated and is only accessible to you and the other person. This is really great for critiques.

Oh…did I mention Dropbox is free. Not just that, for every friend you invite you get extra space on your storage account. You already start off with 2GBs when you sign up but the more friends you invite, the more space you get. So tell me…have I convinced you to at least take a look at it? Here are a few more tricks that Dropbox can teach you…

2 Comments

  1. Awesome stuff. Thanks for suggesting that. I’ve just been thinking about another back up method, other than my little memory stick. I have been burned before and I’m a little obsessive about backing up my writing stuff too. Dropbox is a great idea. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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