09 April 2013


Tom Gillespie recently wrote about a file management issue he'd had writing a novel. Besides outlining a good way to keep files safe (er, with a strong contrasting example), it brings up the issue of trusting your data storage solutions. Removable or non-removable? Local or cloud? Most people have a good idea of the importance of backups, but few are diligent about it unless they've been burned.

I've been burned a couple of times now, the most ironic of which was when I came home to a laptop grinding its hard drive to death. I'd been at a friend's house, recovering data on their computer and helping them plan a backup strategy they could stick to. The hard drive's death rattle was so loud I could hear it from outside my apartment door.

For the novel I'm working on now, I'm trying something new, something psychological. As I mentioned last week, I don't trust the cloud. As part of my day job, I've seen large server farms go down and permanently lose years of data. Not all of the data, only a fraction, but that's cold comfort if your documents were part of that fraction.

So I'm using that distrust as a force for good:

Writing and outlining are being done on Google Drive.

The Drive files are copied off to my laptop's local hard drive every time I have a writing session on that machine (about once every other session).

The local files get automatically backed up to my Ubuntu One cloud every Wednesday.

It sounds backwards, and it feels backwards, because we're always told the cloud is safer than local storage. But because of it I have a writing space I can get to from multiple machines, and backup to two different locations.

Postscript: I couldn't post this entry at my usual time because I couldn't get to a working Internet connection, and now I've had to rewrite this last paragraph because of synching problems. More reasons to distrust the cloud.


  1. A cloud drive makes a great off-site backup space, but (like you) I wouldn't trust it with my primary files. For one, there are a lot of places where my phone doesn't have a signal, and there's no easy access to wifi. For another, there's that whole "do you really trust them" issue… will they give you sufficient warning before they pull the plug on a service you use but isn't profitable (enough)? Or attempt to claim part-ownership of your data?

    1. Ugh, I totally forgot the nasty ownership issues some clouds and other third-party entities have. I once heard about a writer who said he got most of his writing done at lunch on his day job computer. I was shocked, because where I work, that would mean his day job company automatically owned his novel!

  2. Our Uni won't go near drop box .. say it's totally unreliable and untrustworthy..interesting post Katherine..and thanks for the mention

    1. Thank you for reading. I've been enjoying your A-Z.


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