Backing Up Your Digital Writing

This isn’t related to web fiction, but I’d thought I’d share a little tip I use to keep my writing secure – regardless of whatever terrible things that may happen to my primary computer. I was on Twitter today, and writer Zoe Whitten posted a couple of tweets on how her machine crashed on her, and with it – two months of writing lost in temporary hell.

There are two things to remember here. The first is that – if you’re reading Novelr, it’s very likely that you already do most of your writing on your computer. The second thing, worth remembering, is the simple truth that computers are fragile creatures and should always be treated with the assumption that something, somewhere, would go catastrophically wrong; that your work is always at risk of vanishing, and if you so forget about your computer or lose it or drop it or have your board fry itself or have your hard disc spin to death – any of these things may happen at any given time, sending your writing straight to a unknowable purgatory.

It pays, of course, to have backups. If you’re on a Mac, get SuperDuper!. But backups aren’t ideal when you’re writing and your computer crashes and you just want to get back to work: they’re a hassle to do, and it takes quite a bit of discipline to backup on a regular basis.

The simplest solution to this is to get Dropbox.
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Dropbox gives you a little folder into which you dump the files you want to save. And when it’s connected to the Internet, Dropbox syncs your files with all the other computers you have with Dropbox installed. (Plus they give you a web interface to download and use those files, should the need ever arise.)

See the value in this? I use Dropbox as the holding space for whatever document I’m currently working on. I keep backups of my whole hard disc, of course, but if my computer fails or if I’m away I get to download and work on my working drafts – either through the web interface, or via the selection of mobile devices currently supported by Dropbox (i.e.: Android, iPhone, iPad and Blackberry).

There are other uses, naturally. Some of my friends drag and drop .pdf ebooks into their Dropboxes, for reading on the train. Others use Dropbox to share pictures with friends. And if you have your writing organized in a different part of your computer, just follow these steps to have Dropbox sync those folders too.

Dropbox is great as a storage trick, for the few documents you want to protect the most. It’s small, it’s simple, it’s easy-to-use, and (best of all!) it’s absolutely free of charge. Get it at, set it up, and then get back to writing today.

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Category: Writing Tools