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Talentville Bar & Grill : The Wild West
Keeping Your Writing Safe

Geoff Morton
Posted October 9, 2014 7:39 PM

There's a post in the news feed from a member who lost 80 pages of edits on her script. That really sucks.

It's obviously too late to help out with that particular issue, but keeping our scripts safe is clearly a going concern for all of us.

If you aren't already, I suggest you subscribe and save your work to a cloud storage service.

I personally use Dropbox. I save my writing to it, my artwork (and some of those files get pretty hefty), my design work... pretty much everything. Some, like Dropbox, are designed to sync up folders on more than one computer, but even if you're just using the one, it will act as cloud storage for you, so that if your laptop or desktop machine dies, you'll have a version saved in the cloud. That saved me a ton of heartache last Christmas when my computer died and my last full backup was four months previous.

There are lots of different services you could subscribe to. Some are free, some cost a bit, depending on the level of data you're looking to keep safe:

2GB for free is fantastic for the average casual user. I subscribe to the $10.99/month service, which gives me a full terrabyte of data. More than I can store on any given computer, but essential when you deal with art files up to 500 megs in size. 

Plus, if you have an iPad with the Final Draft app, you can key them together and FD will create a folder specifically for your FD files in Dropbox. Very handy.

15GB free. And since most people are running Windows, it's almost a no-brainer.

Google Drive

There's a pretty comprehensive comparison between the top contenders on CNET. Worth a look for anyone interested.

Anyways. I personally use Dropbox and it's served me well. Whatever you end up using, and I do hope you use something because it's so easy for a computer to die (I had one die after less than four months of use just last year), and let's face it... none of us actually backs up our stuff to any other media often enough. 

With these cloud services, you don't have to.


Geoff Morton
Posted October 10, 2014 5:56 AM

Thanks Paris. I take it as a given that any hard drive is going to fail at some point, whether it's in a computer or it's an external. I tend to have some degree of redundancy, so that my really important stuff generally exists in two or three places at once, be it on my computer, backed up to the cloud and on an external harddrive or two, not to mention DVD backup.

When my computer died last Christmas, at only four months old, I was lucky enough to still have a set of four month old backups on an external drive... and most of my work was being saved in Dropbox, so most of it was recoverable. But not everything. Just last week I went looking to update a file from last year only to realize "Doh, that was done after I moved onto the computer, but not saved in Dropbox..." so it was lost.

But I also have a nice terabyte network drive at home that doesn't work anymore. It was loaded to the gills with digital media and stuff, so that's all lost. That I don't care too much about, as they were pretty much all just rips from my own DVD collection... but there were also about eight years of photos that I don't think exist anywhere else.

Anyways, yeah. Backup. And practice redundancy for the really important stuff. It's better to have it backed up in two or three places than just one.

Geoff Morton
Posted October 10, 2014 6:04 AM

"And remember, Final Draft keeps a copy of  virtually every draft you have ever written - it's a good idea to back this file up as well."


One habit I picked up from my design career is to save each file under a new name every day I work on it... generally, I'll just update the date.

"Atlantic - Draft 9 - Oct8.fdx"
"Atlantic - Draft 9 - Oct10.fdx"

And so on and so forth.

I've seen so many people just have one version of their files that they're constantly updating. All it takes is that file to get corrupted and you could lose an entire draft of updates. And files get corrupted at fairly short notice. I work on a 172 page catalogue, and I live in constant fear that today will be the day that InDesign chooses, once again, to muck with my pages and make the catalogue worthless. More than once have I had to dip back into earlier versions and re-do today's changes.

So. Backups. Redundancy. And progressive file-naming. All steps you can take to ensure that your work is kept as relatively safe as possible.

Geoff Morton
Posted October 10, 2014 6:15 AM

"As to your network drive - break it open and retrieve the actual drive - it will probably have standard SATA connections - plug it in to your computer (internally) as a secondary drive - if it is still spinning up - you may be able to recover your data."

Thanks. I figured I could conceivably recover it, which is why I've never thrown it away. I think I'll look into that in the next couple weeks.

Christine Murphy
Posted October 10, 2014 1:00 PM

I try to use multiple forms of back up.  USB drive and online script writing program.  I had just finished the rough draft, uploaded it to Talentville, had some very good feedback as to improve the script while I was doing some reviews to earn TDs to pay for some reviews of it.  So in addition to new laptop, have a online iCloud storage, and am making sure to use it!

Geoff Morton
Posted October 10, 2014 1:12 PM

Heyyyyyy... we were just talking about you! All good things. All good things.

Your post in the newsfeed made for a very good article of discussion. It's never a bad time to think about how you're going to keep your work safe. I still have a ton of stuff to move into Dropbox now that I've got the full terabyte to play with. 

You sound a little more upbeat about the whole event now. Either you've had time to grieve or it wasn't as bad as it seemed in the newsfeed.

Christine Murphy
Posted October 14, 2014 4:07 PM

Time to grieve and realize that I had Office Depot print out the first draft as uploaded to Talentville :) So, trying to stave off writers block at the moment.  Will hit my stride again, just got to work at it.

Trying to keep everything up to date and back up, back up.  Still realizing just how lucky I was to have had that printed. :) Made some last minute changes savd them, but didn't back them up on thumb drive.  Will not be making that mistake.  Selling the old laptop.  Told the future owner not to trust it.  Yes, told them it crashed and that I lost everything.  The person is a computer person, so...