March 4, 2013 by Sam Graber
Let’s talk about playwrights backing up their writing.
Nine years ago I was seeking a high-tech solution for data backup because I was worried all my business data, at the time residing on one computer, could get lost in an instant. A spilled glass of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. An electrical surge. A fire. The machine just giving up on its own. And then where would I be?
One little computer desktop box controlled my fate. All my mission critical data would vanish if the box decided not to show up for work one morning.
At the time I protected my data by backing up the desktop each week on two separate CD-Rs and by putting those CD-Rs in the glove compartment of my car. I did this because if something happened to the desktop computer, then the backup data on the CD-Rs wouldn’t be near the computer.
It seemed to me this procedure was kind of lame. However, I was told by experts in the field that my lame procedure for archiving data is exactly what data security professionals do: put primary data in one location, and the backup in another.
Of course, we’re no longer living in 2004. Since then scads of online services have surfaced with offers of low monthly fees for operating as an ethereal digital backup stash for your data. Some services offer stash spots for free. Dropbox emerged as the primary vendor in this stash space because their solution is the easiest to use.
I have 100% stayed away from using these services for personal and intimate data. For example, I would never EVER put my household finances out there on the internet. Why people put their private material on the internet believing it secure and inviolate shocks my comprehension. If something on the internet is offered for free then so is your privacy.
When it comes to backing up your data or your writing there really are no shortcuts. You need 1) media of sufficient size and 2) an offsite location to store your data. I cannot emphasize enough my second point.
Two years ago I was at a close friend’s recording studio, and in the middle of a session I accidentally knocked over a glass of water onto his one and only control laptop. Splash. Thankfully, the computer and data were salvaged. The only casualty was my friend’s trackpad.
Like, who doesn’t use a mouse?
Yeah, my friend wasn’t amused at the time, either.
If my friend had all his data backed up to a physically attached SD card then the backup could have been lost, too. Splash indeed.
Here’s what I do. Weekly using Genie Backup Manager I backup to an external hard drive via USB all my variable work data. I keep that hard drive in Wife Unit’s car. I never EVER put my laptop in Wife Unit’s car. You can’t have the primary and backup data in the same place. I also once a month go over to Father-In-Law’s house and backup to a second external hard drive there.
Twice a year I backup to those external hard drives all my meatier non-variable data, including movies, music and pictures.
Too much work, you say? Try losing all your data. Try losing all your data and then wondering why the download from some stash service fails or goes so slow you have to keep rebooting the session. Or waiting three days to get your data back.
In between the weekly backup sessions, I daily float my playwrighting through Dropbox. Unfortunately, it’s not like the world cares that much about my theatrical writing to go and invade my works in progress. So at least that’s inviolate for now. Until the IRS gets word of it.