One or another of us at The Kill Zone will at infrequent and irregular intervals discuss the importance of backing up your work. I am reminding you of this today, simply because I spent some time on the telephone this week consoling a friend who did not. If you are doing any type of creative work, in any field, in any medium, you should be — you must be — replicating, saving and storing what you are doing. Period.
I write. My wife and younger daughter are photographers. My older son, who has his own home elsewhere, is a musician and composer. We all preserve our respective work. There is a drawer in our home that is devoted to flash drives in gigabytes of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and 128. My humble laptop is paired with a 1.0 terabyte external hard drive; my wife and daughter share an iMac and their own external hard drive. We each back up our work to our respective external hard drives at the close of each day. I back both of the external hard drives up every six months to yet another external hard drive. If a computer goes down — and it WILL go down, sooner or later, and probably at the worst possible time — we have the external hard drives. I should back those up more often as well, and at some point will work on doing that. It is doubtful, however, that everything will pass a sandcastle at once. There is one other thing that I should do, but don’t, and that you should do as well: keep your backup external hard drive — the one that backs up your principal external hard drives — off site, such as in a friend’s home or in a safe deposit box. There are authors and musicians in New Orleans who speak my name with reverence to this day because I kept back-up copies of their manuscripts and demo recordings in my home in Ohio while theirs were being washed away by Katrina.
What to buy? For flash drives, you don’t need to purchase the most expensive one you can find, but you shouldn’t reach by default for the “take your change in flash drives” models, either. Most of our flash drives (and yes, we have gone a bit overboard on the quantity of them in our home) are Kingston 3.0. All of our hard drives are manufactured by WD, but Seagate makes a very adequate one as well.
Please note: I do NOT consider backing something up in the cloud or “cloud storage” to be backing up or storage. I consider the cloud an excellent place to lose things at some indeterminate point in the future. Yes. I am old-fashioned in the sense that I still like to hold things in hand, even if it’s a plastic rectangle the size of a trade paperback or a sliver of metal encased in plastic the size of my thumb. I have a recurring nightmare, however that one day someone with more time on their hands than sense in their bodies will hack into the cloud and go through it like urchins in an unlocked schoolhouse. So yes, I back up letters and emails and even whatever I compose in google drive, such as this blog.
As always, I am curious: how many of you actively back up your creative work on a regular basis? How often? What do you use? Do you have a backup plan for your backup plan? And — God forbid — have you lost anything?