Backing up and peace of mind

The week before Christmas my hard drive died. In the past, such hard drive failures have come with plenty of warning such that I know it’s only a matter of time and can be prepared. However, this one was out of the blue – I put my computer to sleep like normal one evening, and the next morning it wouldn’t wake up. I brought it with me for my dad to investigate at Christmas and he confirmed that it was gone. While I may be able to take it in to a computer store and have them recover something, I’m not counting on it.

Despite this, I felt surprisingly calm. And the reason was because I had everything that was really important to me backed up. I did lose some irreplacable stuff, but nothing that was really valuable.

For about a year and a half now I’ve saved all my fiction files in a Dropbox folder. Whenever I hit the “Save” button in Word, or add a new file to the folder, or whatever, the Dropbox software syncs the changes with their own servers. The most I’m ever at risk of losing is unsaved changes in an open document. It’s incredible peace of mind.

Dropbox is one of four big players in the cloud storage/backup scene; the others are Google Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, and Apple’s iCloud. With all of them you can download software onto your computer that will automatically sync a designated folder(s) with their servers. They also allow you to share large files with other people, and Dropbox (and probably the others) maintains a file history so you can return to previous versions of a file in case it gets corrupted or you realize you made a huge mistake you can’t or it would be time-consuming to undo.

I haven’t tried the other three services, but they’re all rated quite well. All have free accounts that offer a small amount of  storage (between 2 and 7 gb) and the option to get larger storage amounts for a monthly/yearly fee. If all you’re saving is your writing documents and perhaps a small collection of photos, the free accounts are just fine.

I’m one of those people who never remembers to (or never gets around to) back up my computer, so having something that will do it automatically without my prompting has been great, and allows me to rest a bit easier. I highly encourage others to check out these services, especially if you don’t currently back your files up, and see if they might be something that would work for you.

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2 responses to “Backing up and peace of mind

  1. Do you use a free service or pay for yours?

    • I just use the free service, mostly for my fiction, since that’s the only stuff that changes regularly. Everything else I try to remember to back up onto an external drive periodically. If you have free accounts with each of the four services you can get something like 12 gig total between them, I think.

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