What is the Durability of Your Writing?

Nothing like a little seismic instability to get you considering the durability of where you store your writing. After the 7.1 shaker we had early morning January 24, a member of 49 Writers reached out to me to ask about storing his writing in “the Cloud.” He faithfully backs up his computer on an external drive (Good! Yes, do this, and more than once a month!). But what if there’s another big shaker and that external drive is destroyed along with his beloved computer? Then what?

Enter “Cloud” storage. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it simply means storing your files on an external server someplace else. In other words, your files live on a computer located outside of your home or office. Most cloud storage solutions have redundant backups, so if the warehouse (or server farm as the computer gurus call them) which contains the computer that stores your files should burn down, explode, get flooded, etc., your files are safe because they are located in several places.

I use two kinds of Cloud storage, and I am manic about backing up my hard-drive. It’s fairly easy for me because I work on a Mac, and the operating system comes with iCloud, a cloud-based storage solution. I also have a DropBox account which I use for work. DropBox is great because files can be shared with multiple people, and they exist locally on your computer so if you have no internet connection, you can still work. When you reconnect to the web, the local files update the copies stored in the Cloud. (BTW, iCloud works the same way.)

There are many many options for Cloud-based storage. I couldn’t begin to knowledgeably explain them all here, but I can point you toward two recent reviews:

Of course, because I’m one of those poets, this whole discussion has led me down the rabbit hole considering what’s the durability of any of our work? For whom do we write? And why? What happens to all of those words when we’re in a different type of cloud storage? 

This past Friday night, I got one answer to those questions as I listened to people read from Eva Saulitis’s work – poems and essay snippets from books, magazine articles, Caring Bridge and blog posts, a piece from the local paper. The big conversation going onward and outward with love.
Such a privilege to be part of it all.
If you’re close to Anchorage, I hope I’ll see you on Friday night (7pm at the Anchorage Museum) for CrossCurrents: Who Owns the Story?

take care,

2 thoughts on “What is the Durability of Your Writing?”

  1. The Cloud is a good current temporary solution, as Erin pointed out, but it does mean putting your work in the hands of others who may or may not stay in business for decades. I am a firm believer in hard copies. Best durability. Keep your own files, and store them in another physical location as well. Make sure at least two other people in other locations know where your manuscripts are. That is in addition to your regular computer files and your daily backup on an external hard drive, of course.

    Before the Internet, I was writing and storing on floppy discs (discs that actually “flopped” when you waved them. I was working in newspapers, and the Internet was still the ARPANET, and only scientists and governmental types (mostly Defense Department) used it. I worked on an AM Varityper, and all formatting was done in code—there was no wysiwyg or preview of how it would turn out. All that writing was “safely” stored on those discs—which are now obsolete for all intents and purposes. (And don’t get me started on IBM punch cards.)

    I have gone through multiple electronic solutions for storage for over 30 years. They continually change, and obsolescence, not durability, is the main. Good article, though! And, I agree that right now, Cloud storage is easy and fairly secure.

  2. I agree with Billie. I usually print out copies of my work, just in case I lost my flash drive or it breaks. I try to remember Google Drive, but sometimes that doesn't even work me. The Cloud is a good temporary solution to problems with storage, but I don't know if I feel comfortable putting my work in someone else's hands. That's a big risk. I'm much more comfortable taking responsibility for my work. However, Cloud storage is easy and effective for some writers, so you're right about that aspect of your article!

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