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Pen IN Hand
No Banking On No Back-Ups
By Peggy Bechko
February, 2006, 02:00

his was to be another article on nuts-and-bolts writing, but something has intruded ó literally.

Some people broke into my home and took things. Thatís bad enough, but if youíre a writer and want a truly icy feeling in the pit of your stomach, come home to a burglarized home and race into your writing space wondering what youíll find.

And what are the target items of thieves these days? High on the list are electronics ó what comprise the list of electronics exactly? Youíre a writer. Whatís your most precious "electronic?" Your computer.

So, this is an article about nuts and bolts of a different kind. Itís written from the gut and I hope anyone reading this will really listen to me.

Weíve all been told over and over again ďback up your workĒ against the possibility of a computer crash, from which you may or may not be able to recover your work.

Hereís another reason to back up and to set up permanent archives off your computer. If someone simply takes your computer there is no chance of recovering your work. None, zip, nada. If you haven't backed up your work to a safe place it is gone.

Let me repeat that. Gone. Forever.

First of all, donít shake your head and say, "It canít happen to me." Donít make me list all the people I, alone, know whoíve been ripped off from the smallest town to the largest city ó people who have had security and those who didnít; people who lock their doors religiously and those who leave them open.

Weíre all at risk. Itís that bad and that simple. And, as the police will tell you, it doesnít matter what you do, if they really want to get inside, they will. Nice thought, huh?

So, hereís what I do, and thank goodness did. All of my earlier published writings are backed up onto CDs and kept in a safe deposit box. Obviously you can use floppies or some type of jump drive for the same result.

Just keep it somewhere safe, away from your computer, preferably out of your home. Works in progress I back up every day onto floppies, then burn permanently on to CDs when finished. I keep them in a fireproof box in the shop out of sight and away from my writing workspace. The box is not locked. Against the possibility that a thief actually found the box you donít want it locked. 

Locked means valuable and theyíll probably just grab the box and run with something totally useless to them but priceless to you.

There are also some online storage facilities available where you can upload your material to have it kept safe at a location other than your computer or in your home. A little research and youíll find several.

Donít forget your financial records. If you do your bookkeeping on your computer, be sure to back that up periodically as well and keep a copy away from your computer.

And be sure to keep a record of your computerís serial number and purchase information tucked safely away. Having your name or some identifying code engraved on the metal panel inside isnít a bad idea either. Very good for identification should the stolen property be recovered.

One more tip. If you have locking filing cabinets, donít lock them. Really, donít keep anything valuable in them. Theyíre easily wrenched open. So, if you keep only files in them and the thief pulls the drawer open for a look all he spots is files and moves on. If you lock your files youíll return to wrenched open drawers, broken locks and an overturned mess.

So be safe, do lock everything no matter where you live. Take precautions and most importantly protect that valuable, irreplaceable work ó your writing.

Next month weíll get back to more happy nuts and bolts. IN Icon

Author of Doubleday western novels, Harlequin romances, Fictionworks' fantasies (Ebook format), regular IN columnist  Peggy Bechko has also optioned screenplays domestically and abroad, written for an animated series and for variety of other venues. She's working on a new novel and collaborating on a animated series.

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