Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take My Word for It!!

by Stephanie Michels

They say there are two types of people in the world:
1- Those who save regularly, and
2- Those who LEARN to save regularly

I fell in category 2 after I lost a complicated spreadsheet several years ago. I had worked on it all day when our server suddenly went down, and I had failed to hit save for a couple of hours. After that, I became the spokes-model for saving often.  Whenever I did a training class or mentored someone, SAVE OFTEN was my mantra.

With that in mind, you'd think I would be pretty vigilant about keeping my manuscripts secure, right?

I thought so, too. When I work on a manuscript, I make sure to hit SAVE regularly, and I keep all my writing projects on individual flash drives. I carry the drives with me in a zippered case as I am NOT going to risk losing a lifetime of work if something happens to my house.  So, all in all, I felt pretty confident that my works were safe and secure.  There would be no more lost projects for me!  I had learned my lesson. Except, I hadn't taken into account a rare catastrophe I'll refer to as Flash-mageddon.

What you ask is Flash-mageddon?

Let me explain. Flash-mageddon is when the flash drive containing all the manuscript versions, research, and timelines for a project -- including the final manuscript you'd just finished -- crashes when you remove it from your computer.

The day in question, I'd pulled an all-nighter working to finish a manuscript on time. I used the version on this particular flash drive, making certain to save often. I didn't make a working copy on my computer itself -- something I normally do, but I was in a hurry ("Deadlines in the Schedule Are Closer than They Appear" is another thing I need to learn).  Because I was in a hurry, I didn't take the time to save a backup copy.


So, the eve of a major holiday found me pulling out my hair, praying and desperately seeking a computer tech who might be able to help me retrieve the data.  No such luck. The most promising possibility was the Geek Squad at Best Buy -- they told me they could send it out to have someone try to repair it. I was desperate enough that I might have coughed up the $250 starting fee for the work (with no guarantee of success), but they couldn't do it until after the holiday and said it usually took 10 days or so. My deadline was that day.

Several hours later, when I thought all was lost, I managed to get into the admin tools on my PC.  After fooling around with things I probably shouldn't have -- thank goodness for CANCEL -- I managed to unhide the Windows temp file and retrieve a temp copy of the manuscript! Word had auto-saved it to my hard-drive about 15 minutes prior to when I had finished it.  I was really lucky, I only needed to rebuild the last few pages of the story.
I've learned my lesson!. Now, I've added another safety mantra to my work processes: Save Often and Save in Multiple Locations! My new routine is to save on my PC or laptop and in at least one backup location. I still like my flash drives, but I also save important data in my Google Drop Box.

Are you making back ups of your work, too? I hope so, because Flash-mageddon (or its cousin Hard Drive-mageddon) has to be one of Dante's nine rings of hell!

You don't want to be there!

Keep writing,


J.C. Hanks said...

There is a piece of software you can get - costs about $60 last I checked - it's what a lot of recovery shops use.

Cheryl said...


Anonymous said...

I agree with save local as you are working but then i like to save in the "cloud" so you can access from anywhere. Another good one besides google docs that is free is Skydrive. I always save to the cloud when fished for the day or session, and consider that the master copy. The local copy is for working.


Lisa Orchard said...

Great post Stephanie! :) I always save often! It's heartbreaking when you have a huge document and you lose it! :)