So this week I was working happily on my five year old MacBook, when it suddenly froze. I waited. Nothing happened. No beach ball appeared, the mouse pointer wouldn’t work, the space bar did nothing. I didn’t panic. I did a hard restart by holding down the power button until it made a whirring noise (you know that one, right?) and waited for it to boot up.

Except it didn’t.

All I got was a grey screen of death, with that cute apple logo looking at me.

That was when I panicked.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about backing up. There’s the kind of daily backing up you do so that you never lose the words you just wrote, and there’s the monthly backing up you do which means you never lose the photos of your family that it would really kill you to lose. I know – you’re a writer, and you deal in words, so this technical stuff is probably way out of your comfort zone, but we’re modern now. We have to learn to be less afraid.

Daily Back Ups

This week, if you don’t already, I really want you to look into remote backups. If your house burns down, it’s no use if your backup was on a hard drive or a usb stick in the same house as your now melted laptop. This is why you need:

Cloud Storage.

Maybe you’ve heard the term and have no clue what it means. To be honest, whenever I say “it’s in the cloud” I tend to wave my hand vaguely around my head, which isn’t very helpful either.

Cloud storage is basically a computer somewhere else that you connect to using the internet. You save your files to it, like you save them on your own computer, and then if you need them, you can download them later. If you do this daily you will always have a copy of your latest writing saved for when your laptop drops off the table and smashes to bits.

There are lots of providers to choose from if you search, but here are some big names to consider:

iCloud: if you have a mac you have automatic access to Apple’s solution, which gives you 5GB of storage space for free. I use this for transferring and saving photos mainly, but you can easily use it for documents.

Skydrive: Microsoft’s answer to cloud storage. The app is free to download, and there is a mac version too, in case you have macs in one place and PCs somewhere else.

Google Drive: I have never used this, but you can use your google account to sign in, and it gives up to 15GB of free storage.

Dropbox*: my personal choice. Easy as pie to use, and can be synced with mobile apps, as well as Scrivener (more on Scrivener another time!). When you sign up you get access to 2GB of free space, which is plenty if all you are going to do is save documents.

Here are some questions to think about while you consider your options:

  • do you want to just store documents or back up other things in the same place?
  • are you mac or PC?
  • does it matter if it syncs with mobile apps?
  • do you want to pay for additional storage?

That’s this week’s task – find a provider you want to use, and sign up. Don’t get bogged down in the hows and whats. Next week, we’ll come back and talk about how you actually use this stuff.

*If you sign up with this link we both get an extra 500MB of storage for free, but pleased don’t feel obliged.