Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Have a Safe and Secure Holiday Season

A recent computer problem made me re-evaluate the need to back up my writing.

I have a writing friend who is so paranoid about losing data that he ftps every chapter to offshore accounts (at least, that's how I imagine it.)

I've lost writing before, and there are few things as painful in life. Here are some tricks and tips and products that will ensure you never have to feel that particular pain.

PRINT - It never hurts to keep a paper copy. If you lose the file, you can always recover the story with OCD software like Abbyy Finereader.

ZIP - Bulky zip drives have lost favor to their keychain flash drive counterparts, which can hold up to a gig on a device the size of a pencil. Just stick it in the USB port and drag 'n drop. (a novel, even a long one (150k), doesn't run more than 1 or 2 mbs, so you can back-up every bit of text on your computer and still have room to spare.

APC - The big name in batteries. This is a combo surge protector/battery back-up that prevents you from losing data during a power outage. Get one.

EMAIL - Having an extra email account, and emailing doc attachments to yourself, can't hurt.

DVD - A DVD can hold 4.7 gigs of data. They cost about 30 cents each, and a DVD burner can be picked up for under 50 bucks. CDRs are even cheaper, and hold 700mb.

FTP - If you have a website, you have a storage locker available in cyberspace under your name. Using an FTP program can allow you to save your writing on your home page (and don't worry, no one can read it there--it's hidden unless you link directly to it.)

OE BACKUP - There are a few tools available for saving your email (I use one for Outlook Express.) Find a program that fits your needs, and then save your email along with your writing. I go through my deleted and sent mail folders several times a day, trying to figure out who said what and when.

FIRE SAFE - This isn't a computer attachement. It is what it is-- a fire safe. Keep your flash drive and DVDs in the safe, in case your house burns down. Put them in a plastic bag first, to protect them from flooding. Paranoid? Talk to anyone who has lost their home to fire or flood. It doesn't hurt to also keep some copies in the car, or at Mom's house.

FILES - NEVER save just one file. I always save in different formats (wpd, doc, rtf, txt) in different places on my computer (C: drive, Desktop, My Documents) under different names.

SECOND HARD DRIVE - Also cheap, you can install an extra hard drive in your computer for less than fifty bucks. It's like having two computers in one case.

SECOND COMPUTER - Networking is a pain to set up, but using the Shared Documents folder can be a lifesaver, and is still the fastest way to transfer data.

NORTON ANTI-VIRUS - Still the leading trojan slayer. MacAfee is also big, as is Panda. Whatever you use (and you must use something,) make sure it offers updates.

Computer running slow? AdAware and Spybot are free tools (available at www.pcworld.com) that clean your computer of spyware, malware, and tracking software. You can also DEFRAGMENT your hard drive, run a DISK CHECK for errors, and use SYSTEM RESTORE if none of that works.

If anyone has any other tips for saving data, lemme know and I'll post them.