Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Back It Up, Back It In!

This is a little sonnet to Dropbox:

Shall I compare thee to a thumb drive?
Thou are more stable and harder to lose.
Rough magnetic forces do shake the hard drive,
And error codes hath all too quick a date:
Sometimes the hot eye of heaven shines,
Too bright in my car, and melts my ZIP disk
And often Dr Pepper spills on my laptop
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed.

But Dropbox, thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of all my fair words and plots
Nor shall sun spots cause corruption and unretrievable data
When in eternal cloud storage, you sit patiently waiting for my input

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see
So long lives this, and this gives life to me.

Most of us who lived prior to, or just at the start of the digital age can understand the maddening, frustrating, scream-through-an-asteroid-like-Kirk moment when we lose data.  It goes beyond heartbreak because it’s not just the loss of ones and zeroes.  It’s the loss of effort, hard-won, scratched through the eons as if carved with hammer and chisel into granite. 
So mad, your voice echoes in space!

The problem is that data has been stored in so many volatile mediums in the digital age.  It still is.  Most of what we think of a hard drive is not hard at all, but a spinning piece of magnetic memory, extremely susceptible to cold, heat, humidity, and just plain old age.  The average hard drive lasts but a scant three to five years.

After that, you’re on borrowed time.

There are any number of ways to back up your data, and any writer should be intimately aware of all of them.  Thumb drives are pretty groovy, but not only are they as unstable as your hard drive, they’re also about the size of your thumb and so easier to misplace than your keys.

I’ve done everything, including hard copy, and still, as of just last month, I managed to lose half of a short story somewhere into the ether.  I called it a sacrifice to the fickle Gods of the Internet and hope that my words will grant me their mercy in the future.

Not a paid promotion.
Personally, I like Dropbox.  There are a lot of similar options out there.  This just happens to be mine.  It has a lot of things going for it.  First, it’s cloud-based, which means it doesn’t live where my sons can accidentally spill their chocolate milk onto it.  I find that more and more appealing.

It’s also free.  I love me some free.

Well, free for a modest amount of storage.  Above that, there are tiers of paid storage.  But for most writers who aren’t also into heavy photography and whatnot, the initial storage amount is more than reasonable.

Finally, it’s accessible anywhere you have a computer and the internet.  You can actually get at your files via their online service, and access anything you want.  Now, a word to the wise here: that kind of accessibility doesn’t come without a price.  Dropbox is reasonably secure, but you probably don’t want to store anything overly sensitive, like a list of your bank accounts, passwords, and social security numbers.

The cuteness . . . I . . . can't . . . look . . . away!
But for a writer who wants to craft the latest sparkly vampire opus, I assure you, no one will try to steal it!

The take-away here, of course, is that you should always, always, always back up your data.  You should do it on a regular basis, and you should not trust any one means of back up.  Murphy didn't live in the digital age where not only anything that can go wrong will, but it will go wrong repeatedly and take years of your life's work with it, along with all those cute pictures of LOL catz.

1 comment: