Sunday, 2 February 2014


Archiving on my mind. Or...
   On the brain.
   Once upon a then, I lost two computers to an evil kidney transplant. The evil kidney was a defective DVD player. It killed the donor and the donee.
   But I didn't lose data - only the primitive machine husks surrounding all my precious, semi-precious, and not-so-precious info.
   The info escaped in pods designed for catastrophe.
   This year I spent a long time archiving last year's material. The better part of three weeks, as I type.
   Save your data from the cold. Wrap the info in multiple layers. Watch Jack Lemmon talk about defence in depth in The China Syndrome.


So what did I back up, where, how, when, and why?

Why? To preserve my files.

When? Periodically. Often. We're appropriating a military term, defence in depth, and applying the notion to the saving of work. Let's run with that military theme...
   At the tactical level, I save stories paragraph by paragraph. Down at microscopic size, I may save after a witty line of dialogue.
   Up at the grand strategic level, I'll make sure I have the whole year's output saved come the start of a new year.
   Rising to cosmic levels of awareness, each year's archive is shunted over to a new year after saving. So the 2011 archive is the 2012 archive. And that's also the 2013 archive.
   The 2011 archive is saved three times over.
   This isn't of great concern in terms of size - Microsoft Word files may be wordy, but they are rarely massive. Just checking this, I see the 2013 archive has around a thousand files - and that doesn't amount to 400 MB of material.
   The 300-odd MB is mostly taken up by cover art experiments. Typically, a FICTION FACTORY story file uses 400 K.
   I'm writing this directly into Blogger and saving it. The autosave refused to work and gave me a warning. I saved.
   Whoops. For a few seconds there, the blog post accidentally published. Mouse took a spasm. I was able to revert to unpublished mode.
   Time to refresh my memory. AND DON'T FORGET TO PUBLISH. Perhaps I should add, WHEN YOU ARE READY.
   Okay, so you get the idea. The 2013 archive is the 2012 archive with more material, and the 2012 archive is the 2011 archive with more material.
   All of those archives are backed up. Copies of copies of copies. We'll hear from Swift...

So, naturalists observe, a flea, Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em, And so proceed ad infinitum.

How and where? Digitally, for the most part. Files are stored on two computers, on USB memory sticks, on the (koff) external hard drive, on DVD, and on the mystical cloud.
   Non-digitally, some material is printed or written by hand.
   Organically, I store material in the mind.


Where else? On Amazon. My stories are published. Where else? As a matter of record, with the British Library. Where else? In the minds of readers.
   Just remembered, I gave a disc to someone for safekeeping. And there are printed stories in the clutches of assorted night creatures.
   Also, my two living hard drives from dead computers? They act as back-ups, even though they'll gradually fall out of date.


I'm going to mention the external hard drive. It died. No it didn't. The external hard drive was there to act as an extra line of defence. (Though I archive annually for convenience, I don't wait the whole effing year to save files to separate sources.)
   Couldn't access it.
   Tried everything. (Koff.) The only way to make use of the device was to format the poor thing. Didn't work.
   What's the punchline? I removed the dead drive from this machine with the intention of trying, one last time, to access the drive from another computer.
   The second I unplugged the USB connection, my computer flickered. I realised, instantly (far too late), what I should have suspected FROM THE START.
   My USB cable was defective.
   And so it proved. I performed a simple transplant operation, sliding another cable into place. Suddenly my extra back-up facility was alive again.
   Immediately, I deleted files from the drive. Duplicate files that are truly redundant? Remove those. After that, I updated the external hard drive. An extra layer, protecting against the cold.


What happens if defence in depth fails?
   Let me think about that. All the paperwork would have to burn. And drives? Count them. Five separate hard drives must also burn beyond repair. Three USB sticks, too. The fireproof safe? Ditto.
   I'd have to lose paper stories out and about. And any discs I gave for safekeeping. Oh, and the cloud storage...
   If that stuff goes, yes, all of that, I'll step out into the glowing landscape and embrace the fucking meteor-strike.


By far the safest method of backing up your work is PUBLICATION. Run a test. Go to AMAZON. KINDLE STORE. Type RLL. That's my back-up system.
   Make it yours. Publish your stories.


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