writing

Tech for Writers – Backup Tips

Editing for Deep POV

Editing for Deep POV

As I discussed in a previous blog I work in computer support for my day job. Here’s another post regarding computer issues that writers often face.

The Dreaded Backup Question

A problem with a computer or lost data from accidental deletion is a fact of life. Many small businesses and home users do little to back up their data on a regular basis. That is, until data is lost and the lesson is learned the hard way. I think people avoid it because they don’t want to think negatively or they are just too busy. But bad things happen to data regularly so planning and taking a little time can save you from a major headache. This is another question that I field from some people who have the concern so I’ll address this today.

What to Understand about Backups

The old saying is, “You’re only as good as your last backup.” This is very true for several reasons, the obvious being that you have something to go back to in case you lose data. But the important point is that you perform backups regularly to insure you have new data captured as well as revised data from a recent date. If you did your backup months ago then that’s the point in time you have and nothing newer. You should perform a backup ASAP and then plan to backup more often than you have been.

Also understand that a backup is not usually live so data you just changed isn’t captured automatically if you are running a traditional backup. However synchronizing data via software to the cloud keeps your active data rather safe though this is not entirely the case. I’ve had issues with Word not auto-saving as often as it should so I click the save icon often to make sure new data is save for the synchronization.

To What Should Data Be Backed Up?

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Again, this is another great question. I like having several options for redundancy. For my daily needs I use Dropbox to synchronize working data to the cloud, meaning internet (no endorsement intended, there are several such products that work well). Most services allow you to purchase extra space for backup, however, in the case of writers most text files are very small so your needs may not be huge. No matter what word processing you use make sure to save often to avoid issues with the software. It can be the difference between hours of work lost versus a few minutes worth of missing data. How such software works is by synchronizing data in a special folder to the cloud on the internet. Most of these services allow you to even access this data from a webpage or smartphone. The main advantages to this type of backup is that your data is off-site on the cloud and the synchronization is frequent depending on the number of saved changes to files – just make sure you’re data is in the correct folder for the software to access and check that it is working properly.

Next I backup to another location using an external drive. Again, I have software that defines what I back up and where. My external hard drive is a good location for this type of redundancy but I only use it about once a week since I sync to the cloud daily. You can also use a thumb drive just as easily. The pros to this kind of drive is that it is small and easy to carry. However the size is also a con in that it can be easily lost. Some backup software also allows you to buy space on a provided cloud so that you remove the aspect of hardware failure with your backups. Remember that this type of cloud space is not necessarily like synchronization so you may have to manage your space by deleting old backups whereas something like Dropbox is syncing changes from a specific folder. Using backup software means you must define what is backed up unlike synchronization software where you must save to a specific folder so understand the differences between the two types of software.

Summary and Closing

To be clear, I recommend backing up data using more than one type for the sake of redundancy. You can do this by using a service like Dropbox for syncing services over the internet to the cloud. You can also backup to hardware simply by copying data you want to protect it or by using specific software. I like to keep a backup of some sort on hardware I can reach in case I’m unable to reach cloud-based services. Whatever you use be consistent and diligent to backup your data so you won’t sweat data loss when something goes wrong.

Do you have a backup plan for your writing data? What type of backup do you use? Please share your strategy and ask questions in the comments section below this post. Also, check out my latest posts and my announcements on the News page. I’m planning a month-long sale of “The Black Bag” for Halloween but you can download it for free from Smashwords by signing up to follow this blog via email for the coupon. Thanks for reading!

PHS

6 Writing Updates

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Rather than post a short update on the News page I decided to post more details here today.

1. I plan to complete my current revision of The Bow of Destiny by the end of the month to send to my editor for structural and then detailed editing.

2. I’m currently in discussions with an artist about the cover design for The Bow of Destiny. I hope to share more details during October and announce a cover reveal date.

3. I was honored by Rave Reviews Book Club to have the “The Black Bag” chosen for their PUSHTUESDAY via Twitter last week – many thanks to those who supported me and bought copies of The Black Bag

4. I’m planning a price reduction for The Black Bag during the month of October so check back for more details. However, if you want the book sooner than that you can receive a coupon for a free copy (for any e-book format) to download from Smashwords. You know you want to whet your appetite for some early Halloween reading ! Sign-up today for the free download!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

5. I’m submitting a short story this week. If it is accepted anywhere I’ll be sure to post the news everywhere so keep checking my feeds for announcements. I’m also working on several other short stories for submission as well. Check my Short WIP page for story titles.

6. I’ve hosted several book blog tours over the last month so check those out and support those authors.

Thanks for reading and supporting. Everyone is welcome to leave comments and questions.

4 Platform Tips for the Fund Challenged Writer

ListHave you got a list of things that you need to do as a writer? Do you lack funds to acquire some or all of these needs for your writer platform. Here’s 4 tips for inexpensively improving your platform without breaking the bank.

1. Lack funds to create a website? Use a free one like WordPress.com. Want a custom domain name with your site for minimal cost? WordPress and other such hosts can help with that too. Here’s what WordPress can do!

2. Need to use email with your own domain name? Try it for minimal cost via Google Apps. Here are the instructions.

3. Have a product, announcement or other tweet you want new followers to see and retweet? Pin your tweet to the top of your feed and it will be the first post seen on your feed by visitors. Here are some visual instructions to do just that:

Go to your feed and choose something you’ve posted and click on the 3 dots for “More” and then click “Pin to your profile page”:

Twitter Pin Instrusctions 1

Here’s what currently stays at the top of me feed:

Twitter Pin Instructions 2

4. Want to add pictures to your blog posts but lack funds? If you have Microsoft Office installed you can use Click Art from Office. Verify that the Click Art is from Microsoft by either hovering over the image or right clicking on the image and choosing properties to see the originator. To access this library from Office 2010 click on the Insert tab and then on the Click Art button:

Office Click Art Instructions

In fact, the picture at the top of this post is from Click Art. Read the terms of service for Click Art and understand how you may use it. If you need to use royalty free pictures for re-sale that’s another issue altogether so know what your are doing with pictures. For a great discussion of Microsoft’s Clip Art usage click here.

That’s all for today. See the News page for upcoming announcements like the month-long October special for “The Black Bag”! Feel free to leave comments below and I will reply! Remember to sign-up to follow by email and receive a coupon for a FREE copy (any e-book format) via Smashwords for “The Black Bag”. Thanks for reading!

PHS