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July 14, 2020

Keeping Our Stories and Notes Safe (& Blogiversary Winners)!

Blue USB flash drive against white background with text: How Can We Keep Our Data Safe?

Yay! This past weekend marked the official ten-year mark for my blog. *whew* I made it…even though the past few years made that milestone a bit questionable.

On my post announcing my annual Blogiversary Contest, we had enough comments to earn two winners. Woo hoo! But I always struggle with the part where random.org selects the winners because I wish I could give everyone a prize.

In fact, we ended up within rounding distance of having enough comments for three winners, so I’m going ahead and awarding a bonus third winner because I just can’t help myself. Yay! *grin*

I’ve said it before, and I really mean it. You’re the reason I blog, and I appreciate you all so much. Thank you!

Before we get into announcing the winners, I want to touch on a subject that came up in last week’s post about organization. As Clare O’Beara and I were discussing in the comments of that post, the best organizational system won’t help us if we lose our notes, so we need a plan.

Every System Has Risks

In last week’s post, we discussed several types of organizational systems, from tangible notebooks and planners to digital online solutions. Either way, we might run the risk of losing all our notes.

If we use a tangible and portable system, such as a planner, we could lose the notebook itself. No matter how “attached” we are to our planner, we all get distracted, or we might drop the notebook in a puddle and ruin the pages themselves.

If we use a tangible and non-portable system, such as a whiteboard, we’re obviously less likely to misplace our notes, but the risks still aren’t zero. Sticky notes can blow or fall off a board, someone else could accidentally erase our scribblings, or a bigger tragedy could strike, like a flood, tornado, or house fire.

If we use a digital system, such as computer files or apps, the risks come from multiple directions. We could lose our phone or laptop, our computer hard drive could crash, or files could become corrupted.

Why We Need to Plan for the Worst

That list of risks sounds pretty dire—and maybe extreme. After all, it’s easy to assume those problems won’t happen to us.

Sure, maybe we won’t ever have an issue…but maybe we will. And if we do, the cost of not having a plan is always higher than we think.

Why should we plan for the worst to keep our writing data safe? Click To Tweet

Those of you who follow my blog might have heard that my house flooded last November—the whole first floor. The water didn’t seem that deep, so we initially thought the chaos would last for about a month.

But our move-out lasted for three months, as every step of the demolition and reconstruction process revealed more issues. So it was a good thing that we’d grabbed everything we thought we might need before packing up: whole file drawers of important documents, every power/charging cord we found (even when we had no clue what it went to), and so on.

Or as I mentioned in my comments to Clare in that organization post, years ago, I lost a ton of data when a hard drive crashed and couldn’t be recovered. I literally felt like I’d “lost my mind” because I’d lost so many of my notes I’d taken over the previous year or so. It was like a mental breakdown in some respects, so ensuring we have backups is no joke.

What’s Our Backup?

Depending on our system, we might decide on a couple of different approaches in our “plan for the worst.” Basically, we want to have a backup of our notes and information.

Tangible Systems:

For a tangible system (whether portable or not), we might decide to create a weekly task to take pictures of our organizational system’s current status (digital images are cheap *grin*). The images would then be a backup of our notes, reminding us of what other tasks or projects we have on our plate.

For example, we could take a weekly picture of our whiteboard or the weekly calendar page of our planner. Or if there are aspects of our organizational system that are less familiar or automatic to us, we might focus our picture-taking on that aspect of our system.

Digital Systems:

For a digital system, we can backup our information to somewhere in our home, like with an external hard drive, or somewhere offsite, like with cloud storage. Or ideally, we’d use a combination of multiple backup approaches, as different backup methods have different pros and cons.

What are some of our options to backup our writing and organizational data? Click To Tweet

In general, if we have an account on an app for our digital system (such as OneNote or Trello), our data is automatically backed up to the app’s cloud as part of the benefit of being able to access our information from different devices, like our desktop/laptop and our phone. However, we then have to protect our accounts and data from other risks, like theft, so good passwords and phone security are a must.

For our data files (Word, Scrivener, etc.), we might use an external hard drive and/or cloud storage, like DropBox, where every file in a specific folder is automatically copied to the cloud. Either way, we want the backups automated if possible, so we don’t forget to protect our data.

Personally, I have backups through various apps (like OneNote), cloud storage on DropBox and Microsoft’s OneDrive for most of my data files (such as Word or Scrivener files), and nightly onsite backup of my computer itself. In addition, I have my Android phone backed up to Google.

(In other words, I’ve learned my lesson and won’t lose either my auxiliary “brain” or my story drafts. Er, I might even be paranoid enough to have backups of backups now. *smile*)

Reminder: Happy Blogiversary to Me!

As I announced a few weeks ago, after 1000+ posts (1046 posts, to be exact) and ten years of publishing articles every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m giving myself the gift of an irregular schedule. That means this post is my last regularly-scheduled, Tuesday/Thursday post.

But don’t worry, I’m not going away—and neither are my guest posters!

I’ll still be writing new posts (and sharing guest posts), but those posts will be published…whenever. Some weeks I’ll share a post or two, and other weeks I won’t have anything new to say.

So before we get to the Blogiversary Winners, this is a great time to make sure you’re signed up for my New Blog Posts newsletter so you don’t miss any of my new scheduled-when-I-feel-like-it posts! *grin*




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Blogiversary Contest Winners!

And now, the part you’ve all really been waiting for… *drum roll* the winners from my 10th Annual Blogiversary Contest!

E J Randolph
Tabatha Pope

And the Bonus Winner…

Tina R

Congratulations to you all! You should receive an email from me within the next day, so start thinking about what prize you want. Should I be worried? *smile*

Do you back up your organizational system or other data? If not, why not? If yes, what type of organizational system do you use and how do you back up the information? Do this post give you different ideas, or do you have questions for me? Do you have other suggestions or insights for how we can back up our organizational system or information?

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E J Randolph

Woo Hoo. Thank you. (Between the Sheets)

Claude Rothman
Claude Rothman

Thank you, Jami, for this great post. I wish I had had it earlier.
I would like to warn against the iCloud storage which is an extremely inconvenient and not really a backup (I experienced it). There’s if I remember, a size limit of the backup, and I lost documents.
In the past I emailed myself my stories to another email address. It is fastidious but doable as long as your email provider doesn’t put any size limitation on your inbox.
I found much more reliable the pictures of my white boards, the local external disc safeguard doubled by an external safeguard company which alas is not cheap.
For people using a Mac system, I lost everything I had with iDrive and the computer itself, two years ago. I do not know if they fixed this well known (from Apple) major issue. Thanks to my external hard disc, I recuperated almost everything (but not the emails composed.) I now use Backblaze and am very happy with them.
In addition, I use the free Malwarebytes and recommend it too. It scans your disc and detect some potential aggressions.
Finally, I try to have all my documents saved encrypted.
You can also put a password on your documents, I am bad at remembering my passwords and rely way too much on my computer to do it for me (I know, it doesn’t make sense), you can write them down somewhere “safe,” it is another option.
I hope this helps.

Traci Kenworth

Congrats to the winners! Enjoy some rest, Jami! See you in your next post.

Sania
Sania

Congratulations!

Kat Vinson
Kat Vinson

Congrats to the winners!
I agree about having multiple backups. I hand-write in a notepad, but then I store everything in Google docs and have copies in Dropbox.

Dawn

Congratulations on your 10 year blogiversary! And congratulations to the winners! You all are lucky. :0)

I do not have a physical backup for my current writing notes. But I save my documents on Dropbox, my desktop, and on an external hard drive.

Sieran
Sieran

Oh yeah I’m pretty paranoid. I used to keep 6-7 backups of all my story and other important files, lol. But I’ve gotten lazier over the years, so I usually only back them up on 3-4 places now, i.e. on my Kindle and on three email accounts. I’m afraid of internet servers or email hosts going down, or my house burning down. So I want to have multiple backups in multiple places. I have folders for each specific item on my email accounts, so the files won’t get lost.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara

Well done on ten years ! Good wishes to the winners.

As I’m in college I have got the habit of emailing to myself and using Google Drive to carry material in and out. This functions as a backup… remember, the cloud is using someone else’s computer.
However, the download speeds can be slow with large items like film clips or a batch of photos. A terabyte hard drive works for that; but beware as an Apple computer won’t talk to a MS formatted drive. There is now a drive which is Extended File Format that will talk to either one, but so far it is unreliable. Check a site called Make Use Of for personal tech queries.

For home, everything vital goes on two computers and a flashdrive and the Google cloud. So we know Google is reading it, and don’t send them anything personal.

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