1. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Online data storage?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BFGuru, Jun 25, 2014.

    Hi all. It's been a while. I've been reading...a lot...and doing the single mom thing. But I just heard Diana Gabaldon speak and feel a bit challenged. If she can do it while working two jobs and raising three children, I can. And so my new goal is simply to commit to writing daily. (I did take a break when I had to go to a funeral). I figure 500 words a day will permit me to do research when needed. Honestly, I have more trouble keeping text shorter, so 500 should be easy to attain.

    Which leads to my next comment. I'm trying this non chronological thing you all keep talking about. Just writing scenes as they hit me. Some of that is in title designated notebooks, and some is on my lap top.

    I am very afraid of computer crashes though. I'm also concerned with how to keep track of what scene goes where when I piece it all together. But my bigger concern is losing EVERYTHING. I've already lost all of one of my stories. Given, the first attempt was crap, so I probably needed to start again, but I had put a lot of work into naming characters and historic context and I can't remember any of it. Grrr.

    That said, are there any online websites that I can store these scenes in separate files "just in case", so I can retrieve them later, if need be? I'm willing to pay a small fee to be sure they will be there in a worst case scenereo, but I was hoping for recommendations. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write everything in Google Docs. I rarely touch a desktop word processor.

    If you prefer to use a word processor to edit and save files locally, then I highly recommend Dropbox. Keep all your documents in a folder that is synced by Dropbox, and it syncs them all seamlessly so you never have to think about it.

    Both provide more gigabytes for free than I can imagine an author needing. Actually, Google Drive (the storage system for Google Docs) provides unlimited free storage for Google Docs. The limitations of free storage only apply to files you upload (like Word documents).
     
  3. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    I've only ever heard of google docs. Do explain more.
     
  4. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    I am sure that the above solution will work. I do something a bit similar. I use Scriviner, which allows the creating of separate scenes or chapters. You can drag and drop them around, you can see a 'corkboard' where a short synopsis of each chapter or scene allows you to see what is in them. And finally, you can save your file locally and sync to dropbox, which grants access from anywhere.

    Plus, you can create a folder and populate it with the various scenes for a chapter. It is all very intuitive.

    I don't like the separate files approach because it is a little more hassle to peek at something you wrote before. When everything is in one file, albeit separated into scenes, it is easier to jump about, plus you can global search, change, etc.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm obsessive with backups. I NEARLY lost my entire novel back in 1998, when the computer file containing my story became corrupted. Because I'd been regularly backing up and erasing the old copies, the backups I had were also corrupted.

    What saved me was I'd printed off the latest version of each chapter as I'd finished it. So I was able to re-enter all the story from my hard copy!

    Since that time I do several things:

    1) I ALWAYS keep an up-to-date hard copy. Not only of the story itself, but my research timeline and other pertinent notes. Okay, it uses paper and ink and time ...but it's so totally worth it if things go haywire. Which, inevitably, they will.

    People who scoff at this notion, and think technology is infallible, haven't had this kind of loss happen to them yet. Laptops do get stolen or inadvertently left behind on public transportation, computers break down, online connections get messed up, upgrades happen that make old files unreadable. Once an author loses important work, the scoffing stops and the weeping begins. (I know of people who have had these things happen to them, and have lost either what they were currently working on, or even their entire collection of work.) A sad lesson, but some will learn no other way.

    2) I do a backup of my entire computer system from time to time, but keep past versions intact.

    3) I use several simple flash drives to back up daily work, and also keep a file for each story which INCLUDES the changes (named and dated.) And keep past versions intact, at least for a good long while.

    4) I've also emailed the story to myself, at intervals.

    Paranoid? You bet. I carry some of my flash drives with me at all times. I am NOT going to lose my story again—not even if my house burns down while I'm away!

    I haven't tried the online storage options (Dropbox, etc) yet ...because, frankly, I don't fully trust them. I want to control my backups myself, and not leave them to chance, or dump them into such a large and impersonal storage area. I'm sure it works fine for a lot of people ...until it doesn't.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
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  6. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Paranoid is fine where your MS is concerned. I have also emailed myself the latest versions. I also keep a USB drive, where I copy my entire Works in progress files over, from time to time. Not daily. But certainly every other day. I have not taken to using memory sticks to carry them around though. I might just do that!
     
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  7. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    I used to use Google Drive, but then one of my American friends who is relentlessly anti Big Brother turned me off it. He also pointed out that as a non US citizen none of my data stored with Google is protected by any privacy laws.

    It is a bit of a stretch of the imagination to think that google are going to try and steal my crappy novel, but if I were ever to get anywhere with writing one day I would still rather my files are stored somewhere that doesnt try and sell me things that I'm talking about in my emails while I am reading them.

    I make local copies now and upload to Microsoft's cloud as I generally write on a Windows 8 laptop now.
    I also use Evernote a lot for on the fly ideas.

    Never tried to write anything out of temporal sequence, sounds really hard.
     
  8. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    The easiest way for me is to register a domain (~$12 a year) and get a hosting account (my host has a simple plan for $4 a month), and you can upload your files for storage there Your host will have a backup if the site goes down. You can also use the site for other stuff if you want, like a blog.

    Google Docs may lead to:

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never liked to put my stuff online, but I do have multiple USB drives and an external hard drive that I use regularly. I'll routinely have three or four different digital copies of my works at any given time.

    However, if you do want to use online storage, there are plenty of ways to go about it. Google Docs is probably the most well-known, and Dropbox as well. Microsoft has OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) if you have a Live account. And I'm sure you can find scores of free hosting sites with a simple search. If you decide to venture off the beaten path, though, make sure you thoroughly vet whatever site you're using. You can also email copies of your work to yourself.

    Printing hard copies is a pretty effective backup strategy, too, but with ink cartridges costing about the same as diamond jewelry it may not be practical, especially if you're constantly editing and updating. That's a cost/benefit analysis you'll have to do for yourself.

    ETA: @stevesh's suggestion is a good alternative, as well.

    Love that comic!
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use Mozy, and it already saved my hide when I destroyed my last computer. There's a free version (typically more than enough for storing text), but I pay a small monthly fee to keep all my stuff (photos, vids, etc) on there as well. I used to keep a copy on a disc, but yeah - the disc went screwy so thank God I didn't actually *need* it.

    (Oh, and it's one of the few that take clients' privacy seriously.)
     
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Use Dropbox. I've never had any problems with it, and I've been using it for years now.
     
  12. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I use Google Docs, download it to Word and store on my hard drive, and I use Dropbox. I think I'm set.
     
  13. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    @BFGuru : you can use Dropbox, Microsoft's OneDrive or the Google Drive. All three have a client program that can be used to synchronize a folder on your computer with the online storage. If you add or change a file in this folder it will be uploaded in a short time and in case of a crash your data is safe. By using the client from more than one computer you can also sync the files between those machines. I think OneDrive and Google Drive have clients available for mobile phones / tablets so you can open your files there to read them or add notes (writing entire chapters on a phone is not really a valid option, unless you are really bored)

    @Nightstar99 : Microsoft's cloud is also in the US so the same privacy concerns apply as to the Google Drive. I am a foreigner, I'm fully aware of the lack of privacy, still I'm a happy GMail user. I have a normal life and normal e-mail conversations so I don't think any agency is interested in my mails. If I were using a mail service in Hungary it would be (maybe) monitored by the hungarian government so it's basically the same (with the exception that they would understand what's written in the mail :) )

    @jannert : you are paranoid :)
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, Vandor, you are right! :) It's called 'Experience.' Or, as they say here in the UK, "Sod's Law." What can go wrong will go wrong. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt...
     
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  15. Larissa Redeker
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    Larissa Redeker Active Member

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    I'm using dropbox, with the sync apps installed in my computer and tablet. I can work in the book in both and the app syncs the files automatically.
     
  16. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    @jannert : Maybe it's because I'm an IT guy (cubehead if you wish to say like that) but I trust technology. Something like a global catastrophe should happen to lose data stored on two or three of these online storages. Maybe it would affect only electronic devices (like a Sun flare hitting Earth) but in that case we would be sent back to prehistoric ages so loosing your book would be your smallest problem.
     
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  17. Stephen Gazzard
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    Stephen Gazzard Member

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    Scrivener files synced to two of my computers via google drive, and occasionally shared with friends.
     
  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would love to trust IT ...but right now I'm in the middle of an incredible wrangle with British Gas. They seem unable, via their online system, to update my account to show my imperial meter has been changed to a metric one. A simple piece of data, no? They have ALL the relevant information they need ...it's been nearly two months ...nothing has happened, despite many exchanges of emails. Apparently, no one human being can just enter the new data ...done. So they just make soothing noises and pass me around. And this is a SIMPLE change.

    See, that's the thing about anything 'online.' Fabulous and easy-peasy when it works, impossible to sort out when it doesn't.

    Put your entire novel into Dropbox ...and they lose it? Or start charging you access fees, and if you can't pay (or their system doesn't record the payment) you lose it. Or they get you mixed up with somebody else? Or suddenly your password doesn't work and nobody is interested in helping you restore access to your account?

    No. Sorry. Less technology, more people, please. In the meantime I'll stick to hard disk backups, flash drives, emails and ...hey ...paper and ink.

    As I said, everybody laughs—until this kind of loss happens to them.

    We ARE very lucky in this modern world to have many ways of making copies of our work. Two hundred years ago you had the copy you wrote in longhand ...period. If you had a fire or some other disaster, that was your work lost. At least today we can make copies in many different ways. So why just stick to one method? It makes sense to spread the risk.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
  19. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Not laughing. It has happened.
     
  20. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    However, ADHD means I will totally lose a flash drive and printing everything ... well... they will get separated and lost as well LOL.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have my stuff on my hard drive, my external hard drive, Dropbox, and good old-fashioned paper printouts. I feel okay about it.
     
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  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @BFGuru - Emailing drafts to yourself—if you have an internet-based email system, like Yahoo or Hotmail—is a backup method that works quite well. Especially if you're the sort who physically loses things.

    It's simple to do and doesn't cost you anything extra. If something happens to your tablet, or computer you don't lose your work. You can access your email wherever you are, in an internet cafe, on other people's computers or whatnot. It's a very easy and very effective method of backup.

    Obviously you have to take the time to remember to make these backups ...but that goes for any method you choose. It's simple. If you don't back up, you WILL lose your work at some point.

    I don't personally use it, but my Mac comes with TimeMachine, which is an automatic backup system. If you turn it on and leave it on, it automatically backs up your work onto an external hard disk every so often, and apparently you can go back to previous versions if you need to.

    I'd say, in general, NEVER trust only one method of backup. Many methods exist, so I'd say choose two or three of them, and use them regularly. What's the point of spending hours writing, and then refuse to spend two minutes at the end backing up your work?
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
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  23. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    I concur. I am not looking for online storage as my only option. I intend to keep my composition books as well as copies on my hard drive as well. I do a lot of hand writing, since I"m not permitted my laptop at work, and can write during lulls in the shift.
     
  24. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    @jannert : computer systems are designed to do what they are told to do via programs. If the programmer built the program to be a total mess, the computers will provide this mess continually, steadily and flawlessly :) My experience is that if something "can't be done" with a computer it is often a PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair), eg the person don't know how to do it. Most probably this is the problem at British Gas ... the persons dealing with your case simply do not know how to change that data.

    You say that you do not trust dropbox but you are happily back up your work via e-mail (and suggest this to others). There is no difference between these two in terms of data safety and security. For example at GMail / Google Drive you have only one storage area for the two. Google uses a clustered filesystem called Lustre, that stretches over thousands of computers joining their storage space into one with enormous capacity. Of course there is redundancy built into this system so even if several machines stop the system will operate and all data is available, just a bit slower.

    I did not say that you should store your work only online. This would be a bad idea. You can sync a local folder to the online storage and if they loose it, you have the local copy. If you loose it, there is an online copy. If both copies are lost, you can still get a copy from a USB stick. And yes, when you finish a bigger piece it is good to print it. But to print out every single modification is wasting the rain forests :)

    That's what I suggest with the addition that you should never keep all backups in one building.

    As I said I'm an IT guy. Let me tell you how do we do the backups at enterprise level :
    - All backups are written to disk first and kept there for one month. Disk based backups are fast and do not interfere too long with the live system (and restore is fast from disk)
    - The backups are then copied to tapes (no, not VHS :) ). We make two copies.
    - One copy is kept on site so in case there is a problem with the disk based backup a restore can be done from tape.
    - The second copy is sent to another building and kept there for years just in case something catastrophic happen at the primary location.
    - We are planning to have a disk storage and some server computers at a 3rd location called DR site (DR = Disaster Recovery) where we can replicate the disk based backup. If the primary location burns down entirely we will be able to build up the entire system on this site. This is not cheap which is the reason we haven't done it yet :)
     
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  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I bow to your experience and knowledge. I am just an old fart, after all. :)

    I guess Dropbox is fine, if it works. I think the negative stuff I've heard is actually about iCloud, which has apparently been very disappointing. In fact, Dropbox may well be what folks come to see as a standard way to back up material. Email isn't all that different, as you say. It's just easy because everybody has got it, and it doesn't require any extra expense or software to use it as a backup cache.

    I can also understand what you're saying about paper being wasteful. I used to believe that as well ...until I nearly lost my work, and had to rely on my ONE paper copy to 'save it.' (All the digital copies got corrupted. Panic stations!)

    I figure I don't go on overseas holidays, don't fly in planes, don't run a car, do use public transportation, don't have lots of electric gadgets around the house, am not a conspicuous consumer of things like clothing or home redecoration, I buy local food when I can to reduce food miles, don't eat processed meals, always cook from scratch, etc. I have also been buying a lot of new books on Kindle, etc etc—partly to save paper. So I think I will continue to spend my allotted use of the earth's renewable resources by printing out my book, and recycle any discarded versions I don't want to keep!

    However, I agree with the principle. It's just, as I said ...once you lose work to digital screwups, you become more cautious about trusting them.

    By the way, I do love your story of PEBKAC! :D And yes, it's true—certainly true of British Gas. However, that makes my point as well as yours, doesn't it? If some human-generated screwup causes me to lose access to my work that's stored online ...it's still lost. Even if it's not the fault of the digital system, it's still gone, as far as I'm concerned. Therefore, I prefer to control how I back up my writing myself. It will be MY fault if I lose stuff. I can accept that risk.

    What other people do is up to them. Life would be pretty dull if we all did everything the same way.
     

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