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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing Tools: Emergency computer plan

     Not long ago, agent extraordinaire and shark Janet Reid experienced some computer difficulties. While she was able to resolve the dilemma (without much expense or cost in time), it got me thinking about the tech dilemma.
     I guess I don't think about it that much since I'm pretty tech savvy, and have myself fairly well equipped. The reality, though, is that technology, especially computers, are integral to our lives, especially those on the publishing path. We simply cannot do without them. More than that, they're always there, "as constant as the northern star" (Julius Caesar III:i:60).
     The thing is, they're not.
     Technology will fail. That wonderful computer in front of you will be relegated to a worthless pile of parts, and it can happen very, very quickly.
     Everyone has heard the nightmare stories of data disappearing (my condolences to those who have suffered the loss of Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations), but the fact is that we need to plan for this.
     There are a lot of options out there, ranging from those for the tech-phobic, to those who can build a server farm with MacGyver-like skill. The best thing to do is a little research into what fits your lifestyle best. There are some tidbits to consider:
     The plan has to be simple to implement, and get you back up and running as quickly as possible. I feel time is more important than expense as frustration levels build quickly over not being able to use the tech.
     The plan really should not primarily rely on warranty services or repair plans. Yes, they will get you back up and running, but maybe not as quickly, and there's no guarantee your data will come back to you. The repair place can simply say "sorry" and move on.
     With those in mind, there are some options.
     External hard drives with backup. These can be nice as they can be set on a schedule, and have a button to do it manually. The systems vary, and you'll want to get the one that fits your tech ability and needs. There are also external drives you can customize with your own backup software.
     The Cloud. Dropbox is part of this as it's able to sync files to internet storage servers and across systems. Amazon recently rolled out its Cloud Drive, and there are numerous other systems that offer the same. They range from free to a monthly subscription service.
     A second computer. The price of netbooks makes this increasingly appealing. While they're not as robust as a full computer, if you are looking for something that will keep you writing, emailing, browsing, and tweeting, a netbook can do it. They're costs are such that they can provide a solution as cheaply as those external drives with a backup, and a year's worth of cloud subscription. The real upside to this is that if your computer fails catastrophically, you will immediately have another to use in its stead. This option actually does work well with repair services and warranties. The loss of your computer for a few days while it's "in the shop" won't be an inconvenience at all.
     Obviously, the uber-tech inclined will advocate all of the above, with redundancies, but I think that so long as there is one good plan that will keep you from suffering through a computer absence, you'll be fine. Plan and choose the option that's right for you, and hopefully when your computer fails, you'll just be able to carry on as usual because of your plan.
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