How NOT to Back Up Your Novel

I’ve been very blessed as a writer. I’ve never lost any of my writing to computer crashes or viruses or hacked accounts. I did have one little scare, but that was my own accidental deleting of something (and which I soon recovered after a few edit-undoes).

But, today, I had a bit of a bigger scare.

I’m normally paranoid of losing my writing. So, I have all kinds of ways I back it up. I use Yarny and Evernote to copy and paste recent additions to my novels to store online (with the latter being the one I use more), and I use Dropbox as a place to store all my Scrivener backups.

While these are all great ways to back up my novels, there are some negatives to them. I can’t attach my Scrivener file to Yarny or Evernote, so the copying and pasting thing gets tedious real quick. Dropbox solves that problem, but then there’s the issue of running out of storage space. (My Scrivener files can get quite large.)

So say hello to email.

I have an old email account that I specifically use to attach and send all my Scrivener backups to myself. In fact, that email account was the very first place I started writing my novel on the computer. (I had a PC at the time and feared that it would crash on me, so using email as a place to write my novel protected me from losing data.)

But after I got a Mac, that email account was reduced to backup space only.

I usually move all my Scrivener backups from my Dropbox to the email account every few months, and I always had this problem of remembering the password for that email address. I think I changed it every time I logged in in an attempt to make it easier to remember.

That, however, was the beginning of my undoing.

So, today, I thought I would start moving my backups again, since it’s been a good five months. I went to log in, almost sure this time I remembered the password. Failed. I tried again, thinking I mistyped it. Failed.

I went through every password I could think of having used for that email account. Failed. Failed. Failed.

Okay, I’ll just have to reset my password again, I thought.

Well, I forgot that this account had been linked to another old email account that used to be used on my old website (which was a long time ago).

No problem. I knew I remembered the password for that old email account.

Turns out I didn’t.

So, I had to reset my password on the old website email account in order to log into it to reset the password on my old writing email account. A little confusing, but doable.

Turns out that the website email was linked to the writing email. I was now officially panicking.

In other words, I had them linked to each other. I was locked out of them both. This was really stupid on my part, changing the passwords often and having the two linked together like that.

I spent the next fifteen minutes trying every password I’ve ever used for anything into both of these email addresses, hoping to stumble on the right one and get logged in. I instead got myself locked out of both accounts and would have to wait a sufficient amount of time (an eternity) to try again.

I was now about to tear my hair out. The sad thing is, most of the backups didn’t really contain anything I didn’t already have on my computer. A lot of it was just really old versions and sketches of my first concepts of the novel I’m currently editing. Sentimental? Oh yes, indeed! Priceless! Hilariously horrible to read! Useful? Um, no.

So I basically panicked over losing writing that was useless to helping me move my story forward.

But then, there was hope. I remembered enough information from the writing email account to have a verification form sent. Since I could prove I was the rightful owner of the writing email account, I could reset my password from my everyday email.

I was not crying at this moment.

And so, through that, I was able to get all my email accounts back in order. And, if you’re wondering, I have those new passwords committed to memory and also have them written down in a safe place.

So, a note to myself and anyone else out there who lacks as much common sense as I did: backing up your novels to an email address is a great idea, but only if you can remember the password and have the account linked to another email address that is frequently used. Better yet, link it to multiple accounts. Or your everyday email.

All my accounts are interlinked now, so that issue will never happen to me again.

Do you back up your writing? Have you ever had a novel-losing scare? Or, in the name of backups, done something worthy of a Darwin Award?

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3 thoughts on “How NOT to Back Up Your Novel

  1. I feel your pain, truly. Though I’ve never crosslinked two inactive online accounts to each other, I did once lose my only copy of my novel when my nephew accidentally formatted the thumb drive I was writing on. I learned my lesson that day! Multiple online copies of EVERYTHING!

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