Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back It Up

When I was married (about a hundred years ago), my now former brother-in-law took it into his head to write the great American novel. He had saved a ton of money, so he quit working, rented an office, furnished it with a typewriter, desk and safe and commenced writing. The word, typewriter, should tip you off that this was before the time when everyone had one or more computers and this thing called the internet where we could move things all over the world.

The brother-in-law was a smart guy and took himself and his work seriously enough to ensure he had a backup. He made a copy of his work and asked us to keep it in our apartment in the event a fire or something unforeseen occurred to eliminate the original in his office. I think it was an honest to God carbon copy. When was the last time you saw one of those? When was the last time you saw a typewriter eraser? Or a...well, I digress.

Now, it's so easy to have multiple backups of our work and that ease makes it all the more common for us to not do it. Oh, it's easy. I can do it any time. I don't even need to say that, if you don't back up your work, you should. There are a lot of ways to back stuff up, though. One important factor that still holds true from the brother-in-law and carbon copy days is that it's important to have a copy in some geographic location other than your home. We think of our computers going to sleep and never waking up. But loss of home or office is another angle. So, making a copy by printing it out or copying it to a disposable drive or to a second computer is not sufficient.

If you print your work, save a copy somewhere other than where your computer resides. But there is a much better way to handle copies. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the simplest and most accessible way of moving documents to a storage place for safe keeping. Most internet accounts include storage space. If not, get a gmail account. Google to the rescue. Gmail offers an easy, accessible, free place to store work. You can access it from any web browser, and it never goes away. The question of whether or not we want Google to have that much information about our lives is another question, but for a quick backup of something, just attach the document to an email and send it to yourself. See? Easy.

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