Thursday, October 3, 2013

Break In and Backup: A Cautionary Tale

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay
The last photo I downloaded from my camera to my
computer before the camera got stolen. Fortunately,
we only lost about two weeks of photos.

This Monday, at approximately 9:45 a.m., I was sitting in my car in a secluded park, typing away furiously on my laptop and trying not to remember too many of those freaky stories I read as a kid about people parked in secluded spots.* A friend was watching my kids so I could focus for a few hours on my writing. It was lovely (once I stopped thinking about the freaky stories).

Unbeknownst to me, around that same time, some person or persons unknown were breaking the window pane on my back door, sneaking inside, and stealing a bunch of my stuff.

I cannot say that returning home—two kids and seven socks in hand**—to discover that my house had been ransacked was a pleasant experience (although I did get the exciting opportunity to have a policewoman fingerprint me for comparison to the prints she pulled, so there’s definitely a silver lining). But this blog post is not about that.

Nope, this post is a reminder to back up your work. In my house we have (well, we had) two laptops. One laptop was for the kids and my hubby to do their stuff. The other is primarily devoted to my writing, family files, and family photos. One of the great blessings of this whole experience was that I had my laptop with me. Those hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written, those 20,673 photos and videos***—they are safe. And they are far more valuable than the TV, the DVD player, the quarter pan of brownies, and all the other stuff combined.****

For the past several weeks, I’d several times thought that I needed to back up all those files in case something happened to the computer. But I just kept never getting around to it. Now it makes me queasy just to think about how much I would have lost if I hadn’t had that laptop with me. So after the calls to the police, my hubby, the insurance folk, etc., I decided it was time to “get around to it.” My files are now safe somewhere else, even if they get destroyed or stolen here.

So learn from my tale, ye readers! Take heed! Back up your files. Find a system that sounds good to you and do it. There are a lot of systems to choose from; my dad and sisters use Carbonite, while my brothers use Amazon Glacier and BitTorrent Sync (and now I do too!). If you can’t be bothered with these things, at least email yourself your WIP occasionally. Do not procrastinate the day of your backup, because one day you too may return home to broken glass and messes your children didn’t make—and you may have left your laptop home.

* Anyone remember that one about the criminal with the hook for a hand? And the scratching sound on the car door? Yeah, I had a scratching sound. *Shivers.* . . . It was an acorn falling on my car. There are problems with having an overactive imagination.

** Seriously, yes. Seven socks. In my car. I’m not exactly sure how only two children manage to go through so many socks on such a regular basis. All I know is that every time I turn around, there are more dirty socks. It’s like a really weird horror movie. (Horror movies seem to be my theme this week.)

*** Yes, that’s an exact number. How do I know? Because the backup system that I just started using for them told me.

**** I’m not kidding about the theft of the brownies. Apparently my thieves were hungry. I am surprised by how annoyed I am that they stole my brownies.


  1. Yikes! How scary!! I don’t worry too much about break-ins- my husband installs home security systems for ADT and our house is now like Fort Knox (beefing up security at our house is one of his hobbies- we have 8 cameras watching over everything- and our house is less than 2,000 square feet. Seriously.) but I do agree with you about how important it is to back up your files. My mom is my word count accountability partner so she gets e-mailed 3,000 words a week. I’m glad my WIP is safe with her and with my e-mail, just in case. But photos are super important and I do need to back them up! Thanks for the very important reminder.

  2. Plus, cameras can't watch out for floods and tornadoes and fires and such. (Not trying to be a party pooper here! Just feeling a lot of desire to preserve photos and stuff!) :)

  3. Nah, I'm sure they won't figure out who did it. It's a sad commentary on the world that petty break-ins just aren't that important when compared to the bigger crimes. I'm not so much upset for me as I am upset that the world is like this. Sigh.



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