Easy Ways to Backup Your Stories and Art Files

Happy Backup Your Data Day! While this isn’t real holiday, maybe it should be a monthly (or weekly) celebration to be that gentle reminder that the things we create (stories, artwork, photographs, and videos) are important and are worthy of backing up.

When we get into creation mode, it’s easy to forget to make copies of our creations. Often the files get stored on the computer we’re working on and nowhere else. The best of intentions never help when the computer malfunctions (or dies) and we can’t get at the stuff we created.

Things are getting easier with the use of clouds for digital storage, however, relying on one source can lead to trouble if the company one day changes their terms or suddenly disappears. I’ve had both happen over the years and having multiple backup systems makes it easier to pivot without spending a lot of time.

As writers and artists, we need our files to be accessible and easy for anyone to find long past our lives (because of copyrights). If you haven’t done so, make sure you name your files and folders in a way that makes it clear what the file is without opening it. See my previous blog post about managing your files here.

Here are the methods I use for my writings and artwork that can help you.

Backup to Your Computer Hard Drive
This one is obvious because, in most cases, the files are stored on the computer by default. However, if you use a Mac, you may have used the iCloud storage as your default instead. Having the files stored directly on your computer is great for those times when you don’t have access to the Internet.

Every two weeks, I copy my books and art from one computer to the other so that the computers are nearly identical.

Backup to Cloud Storage
I use both Mac and PC platforms. Cloud storage services let me access a specific file regardless of the computer I’m using. Having access to the Internet is required for the services to store and access the content.

I recommend using two cloud services to store your files because you never know what the future holds. One service could unexpectedly go down and the last thing you want is to have your work come to a halt.

As a writer, MS Word is the industry standard when sending articles and stories to magazines. If you have a subscription for Office 365, you get 1TB (terabyte) of storage on OneDrive. For writers, that’s enough space to store at least 330,000 novels the size of War and Peace. For artists, it’ll store many scanned paintings, or digital art pieces. Photographers and videographers may max out the space, but you can purchase more space.

I use OneDrive to store all of my current files regardless if I’m on my Mac or PC because I’ve found it plays nicer with both platforms than iCloud. If my internet is off, I can still access the most recent files because it stores a copy on my computer.

If you are a Mac user, newer Macs have the option to automatically store your files on the iCloud. This allows for your files to show up on other Apple devices. My current account limits me to 5GB of storage. It’s plenty for my writing, but if you create videos, take lots of photos, or have high-quality scans of your artwork, you may need to buy more space.

If you are a PC user, you can install the iCloud on your PC and access your files. However, sometimes I’ve had synchronization issues where a file appears on the iCloud list on my Mac but not on my PC. Eventually, the files will appear on the PC. It just takes longer than it does with OneDrive.

Other Options
If you don’t have the above options, you can also use Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, GoPro (for videos) or other services.

Backup to Physical Storage
This method is a bit “old fashioned” but it never hurts to have another way to store and access files. Physical storage includes external hard drives, thumb drives, SD cards, and DVDs. I use my external hard drive, thumb drives, and DVDs regularly because things happen and my work is valuable.

DVDs so far have been the most reliable because they rarely go bad. However, modern computers don’t come with a way to read them and an external DVD drive is required.

Auto-backup Services
There are options for having automatic backup services. These will backup every file on your computer, including contacts and email settings. Often these services backup one computer, which means accessing files across devices becomes much harder. I don’t use these services, but I thought I should mention them.

Establish a Plan
Regardless of the methods you use (I recommend using at least two of the options above), a backup isn’t any good if it happened months ago. Setup a plan to make a backup of your files on a weekly or monthly basis with a reminder alert in your calendar or on your to do list.

Make sure you store your files in a way that all you need to do is copy one folder from one spot to your backup spot. The easier you make it, the better the chances you’ll do it.

When the day comes and your computer doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, you’ll have less stress when you know you have the latest copy of your files.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.

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