It’s probably happened to all of us, at least people like myself who started off with technology that wasn’t as reliable as we have today: something goes wrong. The computer freezes. Or maybe the power goes out. You find yourself losing the hard work which you’d poured so much effort into. You’d put so much thought to wording a character’s dialog, or painted the perfect description of their environment. All gone. Hopefully it was only minutes of work, but perhaps it was worse.
Thanfully things are SO much better today! Sure, nothing’s perfect, but what we have now is leaps and bounds above older computers. Here’s what I’ve found to be extremely helpful.
Automatic online backup. This has been the most important feature for me. I personally use Microsoft’s One Drive because it works perfectly with Word (but there are other options out there that I’m sure many of you use). As you write using Word backed up with One Drive, your work is saved and back up as you write. I rarely need to do it manually, though I do every so often to be safe or before closing the project I’m working on for good measure.
Another big advantage is no longer being tied to one device for your writing projects. Accessing your work on One Drive ensures that you can securely sign in on any of your devices. For example, you may love working from your desktop, but want the option of writing on the go while traveling or vacationing. There’s no longer a need to transfer your work between computers when working from an online backup. I used to love writing from my desktop, but now I’m almost 100% on laptop.
An additional advantage with One Drive (and likely other similar programs) is that you can even access it, along with Word, on your phone. While a phone keyboard isn’t ideal, it’s always nice to have the option when the inspiration to write strikes, or when you suddenly come up with the story part you’ve been thinking about. I use a Samsung Galaxy Note – which has a slightly bigger screen than its smaller counterparts – and change the keyboard to the largest setting. It’s still not the most convenient or comfortable way to write, but it gets the job done when I end up on the road with an opportunity to write with only my phone.
One thing to also make sure of is keeping your account secure. It’s a good idea to have any device with access to your writing password protected. When using a desktop or laptop, it’s a good idea to require a PIN number or password to log in. The One Note mobile app takes it a step further, allowing the option to require a PIN number to log into the app itself. Taking a few seconds to log in is worth the peace of mind.
It’s still cool to make your own backups. While the automatic backups are great, having your own is never a bad idea, so I’d still recommend doing it every so often. Nothing’s totally infallible, so in the off chance you lose access to your online backups, you’ll have a “physical” back up as well. I have a couple of external hard drives that I use exclusively for backing up important things like writing files.
These few things have helped me a lot – I haven’t lost work in quite some time – and I hope they’ll help you a bit!