Yesterday I suffered a devastating loss.
I've been using my lap top's hard drive to save my work because my desk top is on the boat with the rest of our stuff (still not here) and the casing on my external hard drive has popped open, and I was worried it would stop working.
But when I booted up the lap top yesterday, the computer had reset itself to it's settings from almost two years ago. I knew it right away when I saw the wallpaper I was using at the time. I've run scans and rebooted it in hopes that all of my hard work would come back, but I don't think that's going to happen.
Luckily, I saved my work on my husband's computer about two weeks ago, so I'm only a little behind. And by a little, I mean I lost 20K words on both of the manuscripts I've been working on. Not to mention the notes, the brainstorming, the novels I've been critiquing. It's all gone.
I'm getting a new external hard drive for Christmas, and I'm looking into a Carbonite subscription. If not for Christmas, then definitely after. I cannot think of how much worse I would feel if I lost EVERYTHING instead of just two weeks worth of stuff.
There's also services like DropBox and the iCloud, depending on what you want to pay (or not) and how much space you need. I want more space because I have family photos to save in addition to writing.
The point is, you need to save your stuff. Right now. If you're broke, sign up for DropBox and use the free space for the most important stuff. Email yourself your manuscripts. Print everything out and put them in a safe deposit box. Make sure that if God forbid, your computer gets stolen by a pack of rabid chimps, sets itself on fire, or disappears into an alternate universe, you don't lose everything.
I've lost work before. When I was in high school and we were still using floppy disks (the hard kind, not the actual floppy ones) I lost some disks of poetry and stories. It was just gone. No idea where it is. It always feels like a sucker punch to the gut, like something deep and important is gone and there's nothing you can do but mourn.
There's a lot of so called negatives to living in the computer era we do. We're growing up with completely different experiences than our parents and parent's parents. One of the best things, though, is the ability to inexpensively store information. So take advantage of that, and make sure your work is safe.
If anyone needs me in the meantime, I'm going to be laying on the couch eating chocolate for breakfast.