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But what if your computer crashed?
Do you have a back-up system in place to keep you from tearing your hair out, or holding a wake in honor of your digitally-departed novel? Here are a few ways you can ensure your peace of mind. We'll start small and move up.
Flash drive. These handy and inexpensive gadgets can hold quite a bit of information. Besides backing up your latest work in progress, they can be used to transfer a copy from one computer to another, so your novel is safe in several locations. Drawback: they can be lost or damaged.
Email. Many writers email their latest chapter to themselves, so they have a copy 'in the cloud'. Drawback: If you send multiple versions of a document, it can be hard to keep track of them all. Read how one author experienced a nightmare using email.
GoogleDrive. If you have a Google account, you've got this already (find it in your header). You can upload whole copies of novels, or group individual chapters in folders you create. There's lots of space, and the assurance that you can access your files from any computer. Drawback: it's not an automatic save. You'll have to go to the site, choose your files, and upload them.
Dropbox. This is one of my favorites so far. You download the free Dropbox application. A Dropbox folder appears on your desktop. Any files you place in the Dropbox folder gets automatically resaved in the cloud any time you make changes. I keep my Scrivener file for my novel here. As soon as I change one letter in my novel, it gets updated. Drawback: A decent amount of space is available for free. For more storage, you can invite other users, or pay for a membership.
Evernote. I'm just learning more about this organization and filing system (look for a post on Evernote soon). I think it could work well for copies of chapters. Drawback: you'll have to drag in a new copy of your file for it to be saved in the cloud.
External Hard drive. These can be purchased for less than $100, and can hold a huge amount of information (like backing up your whole computer). Most work in the background, saving your information whenever something gets changed. Drawback: as with any device, it can break down, get damaged, or stolen.
Online back-up system. These services act like the physical hard drive above, but your information is stored remotely. Most can restore your computer if it crashes. Drawback: Each charge a monthly or yearly fee. Check out this post on Five Scribes to read how several of them compare.
I'm sure there are many possibilities I haven't even touched on. The best idea, though, is to choose more than one so your words are saved in several places. That way, no natural disaster or tragedy can stand in the way of publication.
How do you back up your writing? What works the best for you--and is easy to keep up with?