Donald James Parker

Donald James Parker is a rebel with a cause and is the author of nine novels, seven of which he considers culture-flash fiction. His goal is to promote God's kingdom and tear down strongholds of the enemy while he provides entertainment. He writes for The Christian Pulse, Examiner.Com, and The ebooks of all his novels are available for free download from his website at All of Don's books promote sexual purity, but two are especially focused on that topic - Love Waits and Homeless Like Me. The novels that attack the theory of human evolution include More Than Dust in the Wind, All the Voices of the Wind, and All the Fury of the Wind. Reforming the Potter's Clay is an attack on the occult. All the Stillness of the Wind is a spiritual odyssey which spotlights cheap grace and lukewarm living.

Cover Your Assets

Have you ever slaved over your computer for a couple of hours, composing a section of the great American novel and then something happened causing you to lose your work? The resulting frustration and sinking feeling is extremely unpleasant. Just for jollies, try to imagine those feelings to the nth degree. We’re talking major sickness at heart here.

What if you lost a manuscript you had worked on for a year, including tedious rewrites? Do you think the urge to commit hari-kari would ever pass? Let’s not find out. I’m here to exercise that old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure. I’m going to offer some tips that might preserve your sanity, so don’t change the channel.

If you’re not a professional data-processing geek (like me for almost thirty years), you might not know much about “backing up” your documents. If that term isn’t familiar to you, “backing up” is a form of insurance policy that simply involves making copies of your work. Companies must backup their data daily because,—as the bumper stickers so poignantly point out—stuff happens. A loss of information could cripple a business.

Though part of my job entailed performing backups, I didn’t utilize a foolproof backup system for my own manuscripts. (Do dentists really floss their own teeth?) This article is also a wake-up call to moi to shake off complacency and get ’er done. Faith in God I should have, but trust in a pile of bolts, electronic components, and magnetic storage is misplaced. Most experts say that it is “not if but when” in regard to disk damage.

So, my friends, you must purge procrastination from your dictionary when it comes to backing up your files. Excessive busyness is no excuse here. You can’t afford not to back up your files. I’m not telling you that you’ll find this exercise pleasurable. It’s just one of those little things that nag you to death because you have to do it repeatedly to keep protected.

If you haven’t created regular backups of some kind, I hope I’ll convince you of the need to start. However, even if you already have a backup strategy, there may be some flaws in it. Maybe you copy your documents to another folder (directory) on the same computer. Unfortunately, if your disk crashes, both folders will probably be toast. Thus, this method is not sufficient.

How about this one? You bought a portable drive that attaches to your computer via cable or plugs into a USB port and copies your document folder to it every day. Good for you, but there are potentially two things wrong with that scenario. First, if you use the same destination for your backups each time you make the copies, you overwrite the previous backups. If you ever need to retrieve an older version of that document, you’re up the proverbial creek without means of locomotion.

More important, if you’re keeping the portable drive connected to your computer, on your computer desk, or even in your sock drawer in the bedroom, you are still vulnerable to losing it. What happens if your house burns down (or is the victim of a tornado, flood, earthquake, or burglary)? In effect, even though you had a backup, your spare copy or copies of the manuscripts went up in smoke as well, and now the manuscript into which you have poured out blood, sweat, and tears is perhaps only a Fig Newton of your imagination. Believe me, there is no RIP for a lost WIP. Bottom line, you need to keep copies of your work outside of your house.

By now you should be sufficiently concerned about your exposure to catastrophe. What can you do to cover your assets? There are several solutions that can be used alone or in tandem. Large companies send their backups off site to be stored in special environments that offer maximum protection (like nuke-proof bunkers). Hiring professionals to store backups is not really feasible for the typical author. You might imitate that process by placing the backup media in a bank box or relative’s house. I suggest that a purely electronic solution will be less trouble and more reliable.

If I have backups only at home and at the office in the same community, a common disaster such as tornado or flood could still rob me of my hard work. Make sure you have a copy outside of

your immediate area. The good news is that you can easily do that by obtaining space on someone else’s computer to store your documents. For some such services, you must pay for the right to use the providers’ disk space, but some companies offer free storage!

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) might offer you space for a free Website. You could use that to store your backups. You can copy your manuscripts via the Internet and go to sleep knowing that if your computer fries at midnight, you could be editing the latest backup version of your document as soon as you can get online with another computer and retrieve it.

You might be blessed with enough disk space that you can make a new copy of each backup and give it a meaningful name such as MyMasterpiece_0622_2010.doc. That solves the problem of not having multiple versions of your document available. There is a better solution for this, which provides my topic of discourse in next month’s edition of CFOM.

Another solution, which I consider inferior, is to e-mail the manuscripts to yourself, thus storing a copy of your document at Yahoo, Gmail or with whomever you have your e-mail service. I suggest Yahoo because it seems to have unlimited storage. I use the freebie service to e-mail manuscripts to my office computer, thus giving me two backup copies. Note: If you use Outlook Express, your e-mails might be stored only on your computer, depending on your configuration, so you’re not sufficiently protected.

I realize this article has been mostly case work—I’ve been on your case to be diligent with your work, but the details of how to accomplish this critical task are sparse. So, I’ve created a group named Self Publishing on a social network called God’s Media Army at If you join there, you will find more information and be able to ask for specific details. I’m in the process of automating my backups, so I don’t have to remember to do it (the biggest challenge for me). I’ll be sharing information (and perhaps software I write) on how you can employ effortless security. I’ll post other technical information I don’t have room for here. And then I’ll start work on a strategy to automate backing up. Happy Computing!

Note: sometimes partial recovery of data from a non-functioning disk drive is possible. If you ever suffer from a crash and have no backup of your manuscripts, you might pay a data recovery expert to attempt rescuing your literary babies.


Love Waits