For the professional writer, words are as valuable as currency, and that means it is wise to give serious consideration to their storage and preservation. There are several factors to take into account when choosing how to secure your data, so in this post we will take a look at the most important aspects of backup and storage, and identify the tools and services which are likely to prove most useful to you.
The whole point of backing up your work is chiefly so that you don’t lose out during a power disruption or if your system crashes entirely. Many writers rely on automatic document saves that are performed by their chosen word processing program, together with Dropbox synchronisation, for backup purposes, but that approach is not entirely without risk. Cloud storage services can and sometimes do get hacked, which means that data stored online is always vulnerable to some degree. However, the bigger danger is that your system could potentially be disrupted during synchronisation itself, or during a large cut-and-paste operation, in which case the data might not be backed up to the cloud in the first place.
Cloud storage is fine for storing backups which take place silently throughout the day, but it would also be a good idea to perform a backup to external media at the end of each day, or certainly at the end of each week. An external hard drive such as the WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive from Western Digital would be perfect for this, and its compatibility with both USB 3.0 and USB 2 allows for rapid transfer of data. Those looking for a solid-state alternative could take a look at the WD 1TB My Passport SSD Portable Storage Drive, with transfer speeds of up to 515 MB/s.
We have said that cloud-based storage services are potentially vulnerable to hackers, but the same can be said of all backup and storage solutions. That being the case, writers need to get into the habit – if they aren’t already – of encrypting their work instead of saving it in unencrypted form. Microsoft Word and many other word processing programs allow files to be saved very easily with automatic encryption, but if your chosen program doesn’t offer that facility, you can save your work to a password-protected folder instead. If you would like even more security, you can also consider creating an encrypted partition on your external hard drive, and opting for a cloud-based storage service which offers file encryption as standard.
When it comes to storing work which you will need to access on a regular basis – files for a current project such as a screenplay or novel, for example – then you need to think of storage in two phases. First, you will want to make regular backups, as previously discussed. However, you will also want to ensure that you have ready access to the files that you need to continue your work. Again, a secure cloud-based storage service would be useful here, but if you ever find yourself without an internet connection, your online data could prove difficult to access.
The simplest solution is to have your current projects also backed up on a good quality USB stick so that you can continue to work even if your internet connection is disrupted or you find yourself needing to use a system other than your main one. There are hundreds of USB sticks to choose from, but if you value security then you should focus on those which offer built-in encryption features, such as the DM PD065 USB Stick from Farsler, which boasts both public and hidden sectors and employs fingerprint recognition to keep your important data safe from prying eyes.
Write Once and Save Thrice
‘Measure twice and cut once,’ is a saying often used by carpenters to remind them that being extra careful during the measuring process will help them to avoid waste caused by too much haste. Today I suggest that writers could also benefit from a similar reminder, and the one that I offer is, ’Write once and save thrice.’
You work hard at creating text which has a market value, so it makes sense to save that work not just once, but three times. Save it once for regular access, in your usual manner, save it once again on a USB stick, just in case your main system goes down, and then save it a third time on an external hard drive for long-term backup purposes.
How often you save to your long-term backup device depends on how much text you create each day, but getting into a regular daily or weekly backup routine is well worth the minute or two that is required to maintain it. Hopefully, you will never need your backups, but if you do, you will certainly be very glad that you had the foresight to create them.