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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writing Tools: Dropbox

     There's nothing quite so terrifying to a writer (at least to me) as the following phrase: Hard disk failure. Data death is not something that a book can realistically recover from. That 100,000 word manuscript can disappear in an instant, and even if you perform a back up, when was the last time you did that? A month, two, six? It's imperative for writers to have a fast, simple way to regularly back up their writing, else they will be wont to commit Hari Kari after ritualistically bludgeoning the remains of their computer with an aluminum baseball bat.
     For all the paranoid writers out there, I give you dropbox. Dropbox is a simple, fast, and free (up to 2gb, more than enough for even prolific writers) online file synchronization tool. What this means for writers is that, as long as you are connected online, your documents will automatically update themselves to dropbox's servers as soon as you're done working on it. Even if you're not connected, dropbox will wait until you are, and then synchronize them, without you needing to remember to tell it to do so.
     This means there's always a copy available to you online, securely backed up on Dropbox's servers. The site is secure, using encryption that rivals that of banks. Of course, the feature I like most is that I can use multiple computers and have it sync the files between all of them without eany effort. I can take my netbook out to the coffee shop, write something, bring it back, and the files were automatically updated over wi-fi on my home computer. I can open it and resume writing where I left off.
     Now, there are other services such as this, but some of them are overly technical, are not free, or simply a pain to use. A simple search for online file sync should turn up many different services you could try, but I throw my weight behind dropbox for its ease of use. I've been using it for 3 years, and it's really saved my bacon a number of times, and I have never lost a hard drive in that time.
     So, writers, I encourage you to go check out dropbox and see if it's for you. If you use the link below, you'll get an extra 250mb for free. One more tip: Complete their online tutorial and get another 250mb for free.
     One last thing. Those file folder locations from last week with the autosave? You want to make sure that those save folders point somewhere in your dropbox folder. Get out of the habit of saving everything in just the 'my documents' folder, and pipe it into some place useful, such as a documents folder inside of your dropbox folder.
     Dropbox sign-up link:
     Dropbox information:
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