My Approach to Files

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I produce and collect crazy amounts of files of many types and subjects. These include spreadsheets, word processor files, images, image editing files (i.e., Photoshop .psd files), raw and processed podcast and audiobook files, and more. There are PDFs and spreadsheets of sales reports from multiple vendors (Amazon, etc.). There are promotional images, whether final or draft book covers, advertisements, podcast episode images, and more. I run a publishing business, which results in receipts and accounting software files. It is endless. And of course, all of my world building files for each setting, including maps. Never mind all the personal stuff like photos, videos, taxes, and more.

For each book, it’s character bios, an outline, random notes, and of course the manuscript. When I hire beta-readers, each returns another file to me. The same happens with an editor. I save all of these in archives, only my final manuscript being a live document on which I work. I also produce eBook files (the program I use to do it and multiple eBook formats). The publishing branch alone produces dozens of files alone per book.

I typically work on my laptop at home. This is where all of my files are. My fiction (and music, as I’m also a musician) files are currently sorted into four main directories:

  1. (Almost) never changes: retired stuff I’ll probably never touch. I rarely add to this unless I’ve ditched another idea or project. I not only don’t need to add to this, but I don’t need to look at it, but I save everything.
  2. Rarely changes: previous year sales reports, published books/albums I’m unlikely to revisit, previous years taxes, old versions of websites, PDFs (they don’t change). I seldom add to this and don’t work in this directory.
  3. Sometimes changes: frequently accessed files that don’t often change, like book covers and other images I might need to repost on social media.
  4. Regularly changes: my main working directory of stuff actively being worked on, and which likely changes every day. Financial transactions, current and pending book projects, sales reports, and promo materials.

What happens if my laptop’s hard drive dies? I lose all of my work. I’ve been doing creative work for almost forty years now. Can you imagine losing all of it in a hard drive crash? I have a free backup program that runs once a week. It takes each of those directories and creates a single backup file of each, shrinking them down to take less disc space. Literally every Sunday for eons now, you can find me dragging the resulting files to a backup drive on my home network. My backup drive is a RAID setup. What this means is that there are two mirrored drives. What I copy to one gets automatically copied to the other. If one dies, the other one still exists unscathed (and there’s always my laptop).

Once a month, I take my files offsite to a trusted location. I keep two identical pen drives. That way I can fill up one at home and exchange it with the other one in one trip. If I only had one drive, I’d have to go get it, come home, fill it up, and then take it back. What happens when I need a new laptop? I buy one, transfer all my files, and then I take apart the old one, get the hard drive out, get a screwdriver to open the drive, find my hammer, and have a fun few minutes destroying the disc.

I sleep like a baby.

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