A Word to the Unwary (A Lament from the Foolish)

Let me start by asking, when did you last back up your work-in-progress (WIP) and all those useful masterclass handouts, screenshots, course manuals etc.?

As you may have worked out from my opening salvo, I’ve lost virtually everything to do with my writing. Perhaps I had not considered the extent of useful snippets, documents, screenshots, course work and handouts, etc. that I had accumulated over the years, and admittedly there is much that I haven’t looked at lately. But I KNEW it was there. For the most part, I knew that reviewing this or that would help me over one hurdle or another in my writing, and I knew where I could find the advice, alpha-reader comments, outline structures, whatever, within my collection. As far as my WIP, I thought I had backed it up to the wazoo and back. (Actually, I do still have a copy of that, though nothing else).

Well, I hadn’t apparently. When the entire folder and all the sub-folders and the sub-sub-folders went poof into thin air, I looked in OneDrive and was surprised to find it hadn’t been backing up the whole folder, only a couple of sub-folders. I looked into my Dropbox—same problem. Ouch. I was a little dumbfounded, but still didn’t worry too much as I knew I had an external drive that backed everything (some things daily, other things weekly, and the rest monthly), so I figured I’d only lost a maximum of a month’s worth. When I used it to restore the folder, it all appeared to work and I went to bed happy. The next morning I opened a folder to get at a file—nothing there. I opened another, nothing again. Although the whole infrastructure of the master folder was re-instated, no files of any type had been restored bar one (the one I’d had open when the whole thing disappeared). In that folder sat all the hundreds of files, supposedly, that should have restored. Long story, short. The files were empty.

So, I’ve lost everything to do with my writing because I was complacent about my backup systems. My suggestion to you: check your backups regularly. Make sure they are working as they should and backing up everything. You never know what you may lose. Me? I’m going off to cry somewhere for a while and then start again from scratch.

3 Likes

I’m so sorry this happened to you! You have my sympathy and my condolences. It happened to me once, years ago, when our computer crashed. Ever since that time, I manually back up all my files to an external drive on a regular basis, sometimes to more than one external drive. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to any writer, is, “Save early and save often, and back up to more than one location.”

2 Likes

Oh my… I’m so sorry.

Seven or eight years ago, my faithful desktop of 12 years died unexpectedly. Thankfully, the hard drive was intact, and I got it hooked up to another desktop and hauled over a decade’s worth of pictures, writing work, and an extensive music library. Since then, I’ve gone through one other desktop (murdered by a boot-sector virus–hard drive still viable), and my husband built me a little monster that I use now, but I’ve taken to backing up on an external drive, our personal server, and e-mailing myself important text documents.

If your hard drive wasn’t wiped, the files should still be on it. It might be worth having someone look at it to see if your files are still there.

3 Likes

Hi Deborah,

Thanks for the suggestion, but sadly (too complex to explain why not, here) there is nothing left on the external hard drive. By various means I’ve managed to retrieve 3 chapters of my current WIP (there wasn’t much more written) and I’m slowly going through my emails (all of which are still there) to re-download various snippets and writing craft help-mates. It’s tedious though, so I’m paying for upgraded backup systems now and changing the software I used to back up to my external hard drive. Lesson learnt!

2 Likes

Youch. So sorry for your loss. :frowning_face:

2 Likes