Monday, August 11, 2008

The Idiot's Guide to Backing Up Your Webcomic

The world ends tomorrow, and your computer may die!

Scary, isn't it? But let's be honest here; between the statistics for laptop theft, catastrophic viruses, crotchety webhosts, Hurricane What's-Her-Face, or even good old Mother Nature sending 50,000 volts of "Why don't you ever call me?!" through your machine, the message is clear; sooner or later, your machine WILL bite the dirt, and when the Grim Hacker comes, if you are not ready, you will pay. And whether that be 50 strips from now or 500, you will NOT be happy.

Fortunately, the solution is readily available to all, and involves one or more of the following:
  • An External Hard Drive ($100 or so, but will offer the most storage)
  • A Flash Drive (best I've seen is $30 for 4 GB)
  • A CD/DVD Burner and the appropriate -R discs (Do NOT get -RW discs. These have a higher chance of failure) (cost varies based on whether you already have a burner or not - if you don't, then don't bother with this route)
Here's how you do it:
  1. Determine all files that need to be backed up. (PROTIP: If you're going to need it for publishing your book, save it)
  2. COPY (do not transfer) the files onto the media of your choice.
  3. Repeat with a new piece of media.
  4. Keep at least one copy of your backup separate from the rest. Leave it with your parent(s), your best friend, a safe deposit box... the idea is that if something truly catastrophic were to occur to your current abode (like a natural disaster), there will be another copy of the necessary files somewhere in safekeeping. Especially if that somewhere is somewhere else.
  5. Do this all over again as often as you think you need to -- At least every three months / 10-20 strips, depending on which occurs more often. I like to do a backup before any traveling with the computer occurs as well, not just for the obvious chance of something happening while on the trip, but also because of the chance the travel itself causes problems as well.
The "doing it all over again" part is one of the most important, as the idea is not that you will need it tomorrow per se, but at some point in the future. Which also means you'll need to repeat this all in the future. But hey... the more you do it, the less you'll worry about losing, right?

Have any other good tips for backing up your files? Comment and let me know!

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