Recursive Backups and the Reluctant Writer

Hello, my name is Cricket, and I’m a packrat.

I also can’t work in the middle of a mess.

The next chapter of my novel (no, don’t ask, it’s a long story) is due at the end of the month. (Or a week later if I’m willing to pay for rush shipping.)

This novel has been in progress since November 2002. I know that for certain because I have the very first draft of the very first scene I wrote for it. It’s going to be somewhere in the middle of the story, unless it fell victim to “Find your very favourite scene and delete it.”

When I write, I’m terrified I’ll make something worse. So, the first thing I do is make a copy, with a sequential number. I then work on the newest file.

Sometimes I split a file out, to save something I need to cut and can’t bear to part with.

Sometimes I make a full backup of all my documents, by date. File1 will be in the first backup. Files 1 through 10 will be in the second backup. You get the picture.

Sometimes my husband makes a full backup.

If in doubt, we make even more backups.

This fall, when I moved to the new laptop, Husband just copied everything from the old one into a folder on the new one. I think he left out programs that he knew would be re-installed, but he left everything else.

So, I have the current “My Documents”. That’s pretty well organized.

Then I have “old_machine-2008-08-21”. That’s not under My Documents, since I don’t need to back it up yet again.

In that file, I have
/backups/documents&settings/my_documents.

This is from the backup program on the old computer, including My Documents. It contains one copy of all my writing. I think.

It also contains an old folder for Shared Documents, which contains Data, which has another copy.

Then there four zip files, taken maybe twice a year, back when we had to zip things and burn them to a CD for backups when we traveled. Each of them has both My Documents and Data.

I just spent two hours finding everything to do with my novel, moving them to the desktop, then dealing with the duplicates.

Yes, I like the fact that Windows can now read handle files within zip files just like regular files, so I can explore, copy and delete them without extracting them first.

And, yes, I have “backup as of this date” and “zip of backup this date”.

Very frustrating. No, I’m not comfortable assuming the contents of identically named folders from two different backups are the same except for the newer files. I opened each folder, copy the contents to a central location. No, Vista is not smart enough to actually compare the two files. It says “A is newer than B. What do you want me to do?” It asked me about ten times for each of 100 files.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually start to read some of the notes. I hope to start writing early next week.

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2 Responses

  1. Update: http://www.clonecleaner.com/

    A bit cumbersome. The interface is Powerful rather than Intuitive. I’m not totally confident about my understanding of “smartmark” in complicated situations, but otherwise everything I asked for.

  2. glad to see i’m not the only one/writer who is compulsive about making back ups and copies and saving edits and all versions. i have files within files within files. you are not alone!! 🙂

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