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It’s April Fool’s Day. Have You Backed Up Your Ebooks?

HardriveIn this increasingly digital age, people are storing important content on their computers. Some back up their data and others do not. Even if you are one of the small percentage of folks that do back up, CDs and DVDs, the common choice for home computer users, are devices prone to failure.

Each hard drive has a MTBF (mean time between failures) which is essentially the life expectancy of a hardrive. The higher the number, the longer lasting the harddrive. An average computer harddrive has an MTBF of 400,000 hours and thus should last at least 45 years. In reality, though, the life expectancy of a harddrive is three to five years. In order to preserve your information, you must move your data from your existing harddrive within that 3 to 5 year period else face the risk of losing it or paying for an expensive data recovery service. A single scratch to a CD or a DVD and you may not be able to read any information.

Kim Novak lost her autobiography which was stored on a computer in her home. A fire in the home destroyed the computer and her writing. I would guess that many of the authors who visit here would be sick in their hearts in this happened to their computers. As an ebook aficianado, the loss of my hundreds of ebooks means significant expense. If my computer was destroyed in a fire, my insurance might cover the cost of replacement but not if my harddrive failed.

An ebook lover, or any author who doesn’t write their articles in longhand (everyone by JK Rowling), needs a good backup system. The lowest cost option (otherwise known as free) are online backup services. Here are five of them:

  • Gmail offers free email storage for up to 2GBs. Email yourself a zip file of your writing or your ebooks. You can set up multiple accounts and you can access these files anywhere on the net. You are limited to files under 10 MB and you have to manually do this each night or whenever you decide backing up would be worthwhile.
  • XDrive ponies up a whopping 5 GB of storage for free. Upgrades are $9.95 per month for 50 GB. The files are available anywhere you have internet access and you do not need to download software to upload files. With the XDrive Desktop software, you can schedule automatic backups.
  • Mozy also offers 2 GB of free storage per pc. It requires you to download a small piece of software that will allow you to connect to your Mozy account. The software allows for automated backups so you don’t have to remember to backup. It thinks for you. For $4.95 per month, you can have unlimited storage. Mozy does restrict the number of restores each month to 4.
  • Elephant Drive provides 1 GB storage for free. Requires a download of software but this allows you to do automated backups. For $9.95 per month, you get unlimited storage
  • makes available 1 GB for free. It does not have an automated backup system but the files you upload are available anywhere you have access to the internet.


  • Carbonite is not a free service, but it does have the cheapest unlimited data storage on the internet. For $49.95 per year, you can backup as much data as you want, as often as your computer is turned on. If you accidentally delete a file, you can look to your backup on Carbonite. For your money, Carbonite is probably the best buy, even though it’s not free.

Now, Go Back Up!

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Sarah McCarty
    Apr 01, 2007 @ 05:56:29

    I’m so paranoid about backing up (though my issues were WORD related) everytime I leave my computer I email a file to an account. The one thing I was told by techies was to back up to a non rewritable source as that would prevent glitches from wiping out what’s on the disk.


  2. Danielle
    Apr 01, 2007 @ 08:03:05

    Just to be on the safe side, I brought a flash drive and that’s where I’m storing all my ebooks.

    I do have an account with and the books that I purchased with them on are on my bookshelf with them.

  3. Alison Kent
    Apr 01, 2007 @ 08:30:39

    In August 2005, I lost every manuscript I’d ever written – including the WIP (Deep Breath) which I had just that morning uploaded to my server space. It was due in less than a week, and knowing it was safe was the only thing that kept me sane. (Also lost tons of emails, original photoshop website design files. Yeah. Not happy.)

  4. Shayla Kersten
    Apr 01, 2007 @ 09:04:42

    I back up daily to an external hard drive but the drive stays at home. So a fire or other disaster would take both the computer and the hard drive. Each time I finish working on a manuscript for the day, I also email it to a Yahoo account set up just for my manuscripts. I’ve had a few hard drive failures and so far, knock on wood, I haven’t lost any data.

  5. Don Carlos
    Apr 01, 2007 @ 11:38:19

    I’ve been backing up to both Mozy and Carbonite for over a year now, and while Carbonite is cheaper if you pay a year in advance, it lacks very important features that we as writers should consider. Imagine your manuscript has become corrupted on your hard drive, and that corrupted manuscript has been backed up to Carbonite. When you go to restore your backup, it too will be corrupt. Make sure your backup method includes the ability to restore to previous backed up versions. Common backup software such as Norton Ghost (and even Mozy) include these “restore points”.

  6. Keishon
    Apr 01, 2007 @ 13:53:47

    WeLL- my computer has a back-up so I think I should be OK. Great idea for those who need extra protection.

  7. Don Carlos
    Apr 01, 2007 @ 19:06:08

    P.S. I just reread your post about Mozy. Mozy actually has unlimited restores, too. No limits.

  8. Teddy Pig
    Apr 02, 2007 @ 05:43:05

    From the makers of gmail check out Google docs and spreadsheets.

    You can actually write your book online and it is safely stored there in a Word-like format, you can share it with others and allow revisions and editing but always with the ability to revert backwards.

    Step into the future.

  9. Teddy Pig
    Apr 02, 2007 @ 05:45:07

    Oh and unlike Microsoft… Google docs is free!

  10. Marta
    Jan 15, 2008 @ 18:34:49

    I was looking for a free and unlimited on line back up softwere and at the beginning i tried Mozy ( but it stores files for a limited period of time. Recently i tried Memopal ( that store files without any limitation of time. Furthermore is also a full system recovery data, automatic back up, and ftp as well. Not bad at all.

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