Of Things Lost

If you’re a writer who has unexpectedly lost hard-won sentences, paragraphs, or drafts to the electronic technology demons, you know all too well the chest-clenching feeling of panic and heartbreaking loss that comes with a file that will not open or the fatal error message that signals whatever you’ve written is forever doomed to orbit in some cyber underworld for all eternity. Never to be seen or retrieved again.

Let me say straightaway that I am not technology-savvy, and most of you probably know more than I do about flash drives, external drives, and the cloud (whatever the heck that is). I do my best to stay ahead of the bugs and viruses that threaten to destroy what I’ve spent hours creating, so I will share some of what I’ve experienced in the hope that it may save you from potential writing meltdowns along the way.

Flash Drives

After my computer caught a virus and perished, I re-created what I could and decided to give each story its own, separate flash drive. I wanted to have my work saved on an external device away from my computer in case another virus came along and tried the same thing. Yes, I have anti-virus software, but the one that infected my computer was an especially wily one and found its way past the firewall. By the way, a firewall sounds pretty sturdy and impenetrable, but I’m not exactly sure what one looks like. I keep picturing the back wall of a fireplace. Brick or stone. Impossible to get through. Probably stronger than an electronic firewall.

External Drive

It was recommended that I purchase an external drive to store my work in the event my main computer got sick again. I did this. Trouble is, the external drive got infected with the same virus that infected the main computer. My fault – I left it connected to the computer, not realizing that I needed to keep it isolated and separated from my main PC when I was not using it. Another tough lesson learned the hard way. Cue the tight chest, feeling of panic, and heartbreaking loss.

Email to Yourself

Something else I’ve been doing to keep from losing the things I sweat blood and tears over is that I periodically (and regularly) email a draft of the work to myself. I was told that it is then saved to the cloud (Again, what the heck is this? Cirrus? Nimbus? Cumulonimbus?) and it will be easy to retrieve in the event my computer and all related drives (external or otherwise) fail, penetrate the firewall, or catch some other work-killing cooties.

When I eventually reach the point where I have the final manuscript done, I print out a hard copy and put it in a binder. That way, if/when all of the electronic safeguards fail and my flash drives won’t open, I can retreat to where it all began. Paper. I apologize in advance to the trees and vow to print on both sides of the paper.

Image credit: Anne K. Hawkinson

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