Last week, my dad sent me an urgent text message: “Lost all my work! 800 words gone.”
“What happened???” I wrote back.
It turned out he had been using an online word-processor called Draft to write a blog post. But, suddenly, Draft went offline. He kept refreshing the page, but it seemed like the entire application had crashed.
Not only had he lost his blog post, but also four other posts that he had written that month.
If you’ve ever lost all of your work, you know how awful it feels. First, there’s that moment of denial, and then there’s the absolute heart-rending dismay. I think I might have felt worse than my dad did, especially because I was the one who had recommended he try Draft last year.
I searched the Internet to see if Draft had released a statement about website maintenance, but I couldn’t find anything. My dad and I hoped they were busy trying to get the website back online, and they hadn’t decided to just delete the entire application. There was nothing we could do except keep refreshing the homepage every few hours.
Well, this story has a happy ending. Draft did eventually come back online later that day, and my dad was able to recover all of his work.
But this little incident reminded me of the importance of backing up your writing in multiple places.
Draft automatically backs up your documents online as you write so you don’t have to worry about your computer crashing and losing your work. I use Google Docs which has the same feature. However, as my dad’s story shows, sometimes that isn’t enough.
Your account on any application on the Internet (yes, even Google Docs or Medium) could get hacked or even be suspended. Additionally, there’s the risk of your Internet going out, and you being unable to access your work.
My dad decided to continue using Draft (he loves their distraction-free writing interface and how they track his daily word count), but he’s going to be extra careful about saving his work to his computer from now on as well.
So consider this post a friendly reminder to take several minutes today and make sure you’ve backed up your work in several different places too. One backup isn’t enough.
This means that if you write in Microsoft Word or in Scrivener, you could copy your work into Google Docs so you have it backed up online. And vice versa: If you write on an application like Draft or Google Docs or Medium, download your work to your computer.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have your computer files backed up on a disk or external hard drive. I have a My Book for Mac. It was a lifesaver when my laptop gave up the ghost last year. You can also use a Dropbox account to back up your work automatically in the cloud.
If you have a blog, make sure you’ve backed up all of your published posts. I have my entire website backed up through CodeGuard.
You could even go old school and print out your most important files.
Unfortunately, sometimes documents do accidentally get deleted despite all of our precautions. If you do lose your files, take a deep breath. It’s not the end of the world. Hey, it once even happened to Ernest Hemingway. You can read that story here. If he was able to take it in stride, so can we.
In the end, though, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You should have at least two copies of your work stored in different places.
Have you ever lost all of your work? Share your story in the comments and let me know your tips for backing up your writing.