BACK. UP. YOUR. SH#T. A cautionary tale.

How many times have you heard the grumblings of a writer who lost several thousand words of a WIP because he failed to back it up? Or read an impassioned plea from another writer who nearly lost her entire book and wants to make sure you don’t suffer the same fate?

Like a bazillion, right?

Well, let me throw my hat into the fray. On Monday night, I was trying to get a blog post ready to go up on the One Four Kid Lit siteย and I was having a hell of a go. My computer kept freezing, then crashing, then freezing again. I restarted it, and it was the same deal over and over. I screamed several choice four-letter words, until my husband finally said he’d take it into the Apple store the next afternoon to see what was wrong with it. I thanked him because that was awesome.

On Tuesday morning, I emailed myself the latest version of THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, PART DEUX, then packed up my computer and handed it to my husband.

“Do you have your book and stuff backed up?” he asked,

“Yep,” I said. After all, I’d just emailed it to myself, so I was set, right? [Spoiler alert: WRONG. WROOOOOOOOONG.]

I got a call from my husband at about 2. “Hey,” he said. “[Insert a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo here]. So they’re wiping your hard drive now.”

I’m not entirely sure what exactly I did in this moment, but if I was one of my characters, I would have blinked dramatically because my characters are forever doing that, so let’s just go with it.

I blinked. I blinked again.

“What exactly does wiping my hard drive mean?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.

“It’s like starting again with a brand new computer,” he said.

And then I said “Ok” like eighteen times in a row. (That’s not an exaggeration). My husband immediately realized that me saying “Yes” to “Is your book and stuff backed up?” really only meant that my current book was backed up. And together we figured out the full enormity of the situation. Half a dozen half-finished novels, gone. Every picture I had stored on my computer, gone. An entire folder dedicated to a website design I’m contemplating, gone. Beta reader comments, friends’ novels, agency and publisher documents, gone gone gone.

(My husband feels AWFUL, by the way. And I really don’t blame him for what happened. It’s just a miscommunication. A massive, colossal, horrible misunderstanding.)

We had some luck with a data recovery program, but because my hard drive was completely reformatted, what we recovered is about 60,000 unmarked files that could be anything. It’s going to take me months to go through it all.

So please. PLEASE. Stop what you’re doing right now and go back up your computer. External hard drive, Time Machine, the mysterious cloud, whatever. Just do it.

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7 Responses

  1. Alicia says:

    Ugh… This is so much worse than I thought it was. Digital Lifeboat is your friend.

  2. Oh man. I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine. ๐Ÿ™

  3. Oh, Meredith… This story makes my stomach upset. I can’t even imagine the heartache you’ve felt over all this. Good luck with your unnamed files. I hope everything can be recovered eventually.

  4. Ughhhh noooo! Gotta go. Need to back up everything.

  5. Oh man…losing pictures and books and everything…that is awful. ๐Ÿ™ I hope you can recover most of it.

  6. I’m SO sorry about this ๐Ÿ™ I would have been hysterical. I lost about a month’s worth of revisions once because I was saving on a flash drive and hadn’t backed up in ages, and I remember that sick feeling of having lost so much work. I hope you can recover a ton of it!

  7. Ug– the worst! I use dropbox because then it means it’s always “there”– wherever there is. But I’ve almost filled my free space up. yikes!

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