Protect Your Manuscript: My Secret Method Revealed

Most people know they should protect their documents by saving often. Writers should almost be anal about this. You never know when your computer could crash or die, and if you haven’t saved that page or paragraph you just wrote, it could be gone forever. But have you put much thought into other ways to protect yourself from losing your precious manuscript? You should.

Technology fails all the time, and even the best anti-virus software out there can’t stop everything from getting through. I should know. I’ve been burned a couple of times.

The first time, I saved all my writing material (research information, plot outlines, character sketches, and manuscripts) on a USB key. I was constantly going back and forth between our desktop PC and my laptop, so that was the most convenient way for me to store my work. Or so I thought. Until the USB key failed.

Trust me. That’s the sickest feeling in the world.

All my hard work… Gone. Luckily, I had older versions saved, but all the new pages and changes I’d made were lost forever.

Well, I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I bought a new key and used it for going back and forth on the computers, but I made sure to save a copy on my laptop and on our PC.

At some point, my laptop pretty much died. I suppose it technically still works, but it’s slower than a snail. Very frustrating. However, not having to use the USB key was one less step to take. I saved my work right on the computer and voila. Actually, not so much. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to save my work in only one place, so I also saved it on an external hard drive (in the house), on another external hard drive (which we back up once a month and store in our safety deposit box), and in the cloud.

That’s four places. Should be safe now, right?


At some point, our computer was taken over by a nasty virus. This virus was sneaky, too. It slowly took over files, starting with ones I hadn’t touched in months or years, so I didn’t notice until the files I currently used were corrupt. And the next thing I knew, everything on our computer was deleted. The internal hard drives were EMPTY.

Shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve saved everything on the external hard drives and in the cloud. True. Except, that data was all saved over by NOTHING. We have our system set to keep a handful of backups and to replace those when new backups are saved. This is supposed to keep the most current backups available, which is great, unless the files are all corrupt, and you can’t access them.

What a mess. I didn’t just lose my manuscript this time. Precious items like photos of the twins and artwork we’d scanned were gone, too.

Or so we thought.

We were able to recover a lot from the external drive that was in the safety deposit box, but anything saved after that was pretty much gone.

Until we discovered the virus was trickier than we’d expected. It actually didn’t delete anything on the internal hard drives. I just made them “invisible”. Once my husband figured that out, he was able to find everything again.

Talk about stress. I thought I’d done everything I could to protect my data, and something still managed to go wrong.

What am I doing now to protect myself from future losses? I still save everything in those four places mentioned above, but I also e-mail my documents to myself. Hopefully, that’s enough redundancy now.

Have you ever lost manuscript pages, or worse, the whole manuscript? How do you protect your work?

Lynnette Labelle

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2 Responses to Protect Your Manuscript: My Secret Method Revealed

  1. Laurie Evans says:

    Wow, scary! Did you have any trouble getting your files on the cloud? We use Carbonite to back up everything. I’d be sick if I lost any of my work!

  2. Lynnette Labelle says:

    Laurie: The problem was that some of the files were corrupt thanks to the virus, and they saved over what we had in the cloud. Between the backup in the safety deposit box, what was in the cloud, and some e-mails I’d sent to others, I was able to recover most things. But, yeah, I was pretty sick about it. We looked into Carbonite, but after they had a couple of epic failures and people lost a lot of data, we decided to go with CrashPlan instead.

    Lynnette Labelle

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