Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 15, 2012

Gone In Seconds

GONE in seconds …

Tips by Charlotte Bennardo

Just a little more information, another review, maybe some edits, and it would be done. Years of study and work, ready to be published. Only that night the building exploded. My creative writing classmate saw his thesis dissipate with the smoke. Notes, rough drafts, revised copies, all stored in a box in his desk or on his computer, were destroyed. All that he could salvage were the few pages of manuscript and notes that his professors had.

This can happen to you. A computer can crash, fl oods happen, and fi res hit without advance notice. If disaster strikes, all the copies you diligently saved on paper, disk, computer and fl ash drive, are gone forever. Be smarter and be prepared. The fi rst thing to do is invest in two flash drives. They run $13 to $140, depending on storage size, at an office supply or discount store. Put manuscripts, letters to editors and agents, notes and any related spreadsheets on them. Organize by date, subject, or manuscript, whatever works for you, then make a copy. Give one flash drive to a trusted relative for quick access if the need arises, and keep one copy in a secure place like a bank safe deposit box.

If you’re not willing to trust anyone with your work, invest in a fireproof safe. A small, portable safe large enough for your fl ash drives and some jewelry or documents like passports starts around $30. Remember to keep the safe in a place where it’s easy to retrieve if you must evacuate, but not in open view. Larger models with higher degrees of fireproofing and keyless entry will run considerably higher. (Don’t forget to put combinations and keys in a safe place!)

External hard drives, which are like large flash drives, are an option if you have a desktop computer, but are inconvenient if you use a laptop. Storing your work on the device but leaving it in your home offers protection against computer crashes but not against fire. Storing it in your car is inconvenient and leaves it vulnerable to crashes, temperatures, careless passengers, and theft. Leaving it at someone else’s house is impractical. Also, they’re more expensive than simple flash drives, starting at approximately $100.

Another option is to send all your work to an online back-up and storage service. Monthly or yearly fees are dependent upon how much storage you require. For ten gigabytes of memory, the yearly cost is around $100. Less than $10 a month may be worth the peace of mind. Prices, services, and options vary from company to company. And note that companies may offer guarantees and warranties about their electronic and physical security, but make sure you do your research and check references and consumer complaint boards.

Many writers get conned because their common sense gets overridden when it comes to their work. Trust your work only when you verify the person or company to whom you’re handing it over.Some people email their work to themselves, using the large storage capacity of AOL, YAHOO or other internet providers. However, emailing an entire novel may cause delivery problems and you might have to do it in two or more emails. Be sure to put the title and the date in the subject line to make it easy to search for. With multiple revisions, keep a listing of all the editions.

Consider also that internet providers are not immune to hackers and viruses, and if the server goes down or is inaccessible due to high volume or being out of range for wireless remote, you’re out of luck until it’s back up.

No matter where you live, computer crashes, fires, earthquakes, flooding, or other disasters occur. Don’t let your work become another victim. Have a disaster plan and implement it today.

About Charlotte Bennardo The co-author of the Sirenz series (Flux) and Blonde Ops (Thomas Dunne, 2014), she spends her days writing, editing, reading, and calling for her squirrel muse displaced when the backyard tree was cut. She also works on her solo YA and MG novels in between books signings. She lives in Central NJ with her 3 boys, 2 cats and husband. Connect with her at ,,  and charbennardo on Twitter.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Dropbox. Google Drive. Both FREE with quite a lot of space, stored on the cloud AND any device you install the software. Convenient for working on something on more than one computer (automatically updates a file to all devices when connected to the internet), but also a lifesaver in case of crashes.

    I have both, plus an enormous external hard drive. One single hard drive crash WILL make you paranoid 🙂


  2. Sugarsync is also a cloud storage system, and it’s also free up to a certain amount of storage space. More than enough for several manuscripts.


  3. ONE FOR THE WIKI. thanks for the reminder.


  4. Excellent advice! Thank you!


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