2 writer & filmmaker must-haves – backups and insurance
Two events have made me realise there’s a tool and a service that are vital for writers and filmmakers, but many overlook them.
The first was last week, when I knocked a pint glass of water over my MacBook Pro.
The second was when a friend, screenwriter Hina Malik (@dodgyjammer), tried to clean her laptop with a can of compressed air and accidentally squirted propellant into her laptop. Fortunately, the laptop wasn’t damaged.
With our laptops, smartphones, netbooks and tablet computers have become vital tools for writers and filmmakers. Whether we’re writing scripts, planning shoots, or for communicating with other people.
If we lose these computers, we’re in trouble.
Most of us will take precautions to prevent loss, but many of us are casual about the dangers of drink. Despite knowing that electronic devices can be destroyed by spilling liquid on them.
Drop a cup of coffee over your laptop and you’re left with a pile of near-worthless spare parts, with your work trapped inside it. And as liquid damage usually voids warranties, you’ll have to pay for repairs or a replacement yourself.
To prevent the sudden expense of having to buy a new laptop, get personal property insurance and ensure that your computers and smartphones are covered under the accidental damage clauses while inside and away from your home. And double-check that liquid damage is not exempted.
If you have already have household insurance – or you’re living with someone who does (like a parent or spouse) – your belongings may be included in the policy, but check to make sure. But if you’re in rented accommodation, this is vital as a landlord’s building insurance probably won’t cover your own stuff.
While adding computers and smartphones to your insurance premiums for 12 months may be an additional expense, it costs far less than buying replacements.
Cloud sync services
Whether they’re notes, completed scripts, storyboards, shooting plans, contracts or rushes, today all of our work is stored as 1s and 0s stored in your laptops’ hard drives.
So backing up that data is vital. But making regular backups is a chore. And like all chores some some people – like me – will put them off.
Instead make it easy for yourself by using an automatic cloud-based file sync service.
I use Dropbox because it’s fully automatic. Once the Dropbox utility is installed runsin the background, enabling an instant and continuous backup of all files contained in a special Dropbox folder.
Your Dropbox folder can be accessed on other computers through a web browser and the Dropbox utility can be installed on different computers, allowing the Dropbox folder to synchronised over multiple machines.
You also get a ‘Public’ folder which serves as a quick file sharing service.
Dropbox isn’t the only cloud sync service around.has an article listing the pros and cons of five popular services.
When this post appeared on my Google+ page, Randall Oelerich flagged up Crashplan. This service is similar to Drobox and SugarSync, but for $50 it offers unlimited storage, and keeps backups of your deleted files.
However, these services are useful, you should also regularly backup or clone your laptop.
No excuse to backup
These days there is no excuse for failing to do a local backup of your hard drive. Terabyte external hard drives are affordable – a 2TB external hard drives cost under £130 and will give a surplus of storage for laptop users – and Windows and Mac OS X come with built-in file backup utilities.
But while making regular backups is good, making regular bootable clones of your laptop’s hard drives offers even more protection.
A bootable clone is a copy of your entire hard drive – including the operating system and installed applications.
If you having to replace your computer or its hard drive, restoring from a clone ensures everything will be intact. And you won’t have to go reinstall and reregister all your software and its OS.
One step beyond backups…
A RAID-based file server on a home network offers even more protection. These can over 30TB of storage space that can be accessed anywhere in the world.
It costs costs about £500 ($650) and a couple of hours to build an expandable RAID-based server. This MacWorld article below describes how it can be done.
Now motherboards with integrated CPUs and GPUs are a valid option. You just have to buy a couple of SATA port expansion cards, plenty of fans, and a hard drive enclosure to make expanding the server’s capacity easier.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post I have learnt of another cloud back system: Carbonite. This system offers a similar service to Crashplan, on different plans. But if you’re on a Mac system – like me – Carbonite only offers its limited basic plans to be used. You still get unlimited storage, but the service isn’t fully automatic, and you don’t get the extra services offered to Windows users (such as a new hard drive, restored from your uploaded backup, couriered to you).
I also forgot to mention Mozy. I used to use Mozy’s free 2GB service before switching to Dropbox. However, Mozy is a service that should considered, although it doesn’t offer unlimited storage.
Post imported by Google+Blog. Created By Daniel Treadwell.
- Who makes a *good* disk imaging utility? (ask.metafilter.com)
- How To Store Your Files in The Cloud – And Why You’d Want To (readwriteweb.com)
- Using External Hard Drives For File Backup and Data Storage (thediamondringreview.com)