Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

When it comes to computers — backup, backup, backup

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I’ll bet you’ve heard this advice more than a few times: Always backup the data on your computer in case of hard drive failure, fried motherboards, or whatever might destroy it all.

But have you REALLY taken it to heart? I haven’t, yet I’ve personally had three hard drive failures over the last 5-10 years. But I am getting better about backing things up. (A good backup, kept separately from your computer, sounds like great laptop insurance to me. I should explain, I only use laptops, although I have a very old, barely functioning desktop that runs our printer.)

1. If you have a website or blog, you can easily set up regular backups. Most of my websites are running on WordPress blogging software. There are some excellent WP plugins that let you automate a regular database backup. I actually set mine to backup to a special Gmail address I set up solely for backing up my sites.

2. If you wish to backup crucial computer data — writing, spreadsheets, etc. — you can even find some great online backup options. There seems to be a craze for backing up data to the Internet. That way, you have it available for use on more than one computer in some cases. I highly recommend a FREE — yes, absolutely FREE with no strings attached — account at a site called Dropbox. They give you 2 gigabytes of free backup space, and they’re very easy to set up.

I use Dropbox myself. I have been using it to store important data, including the writing I do and much of the website content I wish to save, and I have been using it almost 6 months. I have only used about 45 percent of my free 2 gig account. (Should I use more than that, they have some very affordable ways to add more space.) The beauty of Dropbox is that I can access any document in my Dropbox from any computer I’m working on, once I install it.

If I’m writing something and want to save it, I simply save it to the Dropbox folder which I have setting on my desktop. It automatically shoots up to the Dropbox website where it is stored securely and is available from either my laptop, my old desktop, or my little netbook.

With so many options available, it’s becoming easier and safer all the time to backup, backup, backup … so what are you waiting for?

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