Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Woe is me

You know, usually when adding a lot of new words to a manuscript, I save the document to a flash drive every time I’m going to close the file, and I change flash drives every couple of days. And nothing ever goes wrong.

When revising, I’m more casual; I save every couple of days or any time I make substantial changes (like adding a new scene, say). I don’t bother saving so often if I’m just doing a line-by-line cut or something relatively trivial. In that case I may not save the document to a flash drive for a day or so because it would just not be that much trouble to redo the work. And I may not switch flash drives as often either. Toward the end of the week I’ll toss the one I’ve been using in the basket where such things go and pick up a different one.

Well, I bet you can see this coming, can’t you?

I really got into the current revision last Sunday (the 4th). And yesterday, after I wrote a new scene, I saved the file. Which turned out, when I went to re-open it, to be corrupted.

If I hadn’t saved the file, I’d have been fine. But the file I saved was … yes … the corrupted file.

I tried to use a text recovery program just now. And if all I cared about was recovering the file, success! But I lost practically all the paragraph formatting. It’s just hopeless trying to use that.

I’m guessing it would take more hours trying to get the file fixed somehow than it will just to start over. Especially since I spent half an hour last night taking quick notes on what I’d done. I’m guessing three, four days. Work days, so maybe a few more, unless we get dreadful weather that prevents me from taking the dogs out (that always speeds up writing).

Anyway: ugh. So aggravating.

angry-cat2

And I guess maybe I’ll start changing flash drives every. single. day.

Update: My computer-genius brother excised the corrupted portion of the file, which was most of it — but he did recover the first 75 pages. Which is 75 pages I don’t have to go back through and will surely save at least a day. So yay!

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3 Comments Woe is me

  1. Mike S.

    While it’s not a slam dunk, Recuva Free might be able to find the previous version on your hard drive. https://www.piriform.com/recuva

    In the closing the barn door department, you might want to think about an attached hard drive with an automatic backup. If you have Windows 8 or 10, turning on File History will save and allow you to restore earlier versions of a file:

    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17128/windows-8-file-history

    If not, many backup programs (I use Macrium Reflect) will likewise do regular incremental backups that maintain history, deleting the oldest or keeping particular snapshots (weekly, monthly) as the settings call for and space permits.

  2. Rachel

    Thanks, Mike. Automatic snapshots would definitely have helped. For the moment I’m taking the fairly easy step of doing a save-as-new-name thing as soon as I open the file. I’ll have to delete a bunch of older versions periodically, but it should save me from this particular issue. Probably something else will happen next time!

  3. Allan Shampine

    I second Mike’s thought. Saving under lots of different names gives you file diversity, which is good, but you’re still vulnerable to device failure. The flash drive is a way to get device diversity, but having an automated second device backup that keeps track of multiple versions is a nice way to get both file and device diversity without a lot of effort on your part (although you have to invest the effort to set it up in the first place).

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