Helping authors publish

Tag: Backup

Easy Backups With Dropbox

Backups will save you from all sorts of problems such as ransomware, burglary, computer failure, and simple human error like mistakenly deleting files or chapters. Dropbox provides an easy way to make an off-site backup of works in progress. This article and video show how to set up a Dropbox account and start using it to make backups of important files.

Signing up on the Dropbox website
Setting up a new account

If you don’t already have one, you will need to create an account on the website. To do this, go to and fill in the Sign up form. This will take you to a page where you can download the Dropbox installer.


Once the installer is downloaded, run it to install Dropbox. As part of the installation, a new folder named Dropbox will be created. Anything saved in that Dropbox folder will be automatically backed up to Dropbox’s servers. Simply by working from that folder, you can ensure that your manuscript is always backed up.

On the free plan, you can store up to 2GB of files. When signed in to the Dropbox website, simply click on your user icon to see how much space you are using. Changes and deleted files are kept for thirty days. If you make a mistake and need to go back to a previous version, or if you accidentally delete a file, you can restore a previous version of the file for up to thirty days. Paid plans offer more space and longer retention of changed or deleted files.

Backup Your Work

Once the installer has finished, click the Open my Dropbox button and go through the introduction. Windows Explorer will open displaying the new Dropbox folder, which will have a shortcut to a web page and a PDF.

Dropbox file listing on website
File listing

At this point, I suggest you move any work in progress to the new Dropbox folder. It will be automatically backed up. Whenever you save, the new version will be backed up and old versions will be kept for thirty days. This process is completely automatic and happens in the background.

Restore Old Version

If you need to go back to an older version of a file, log in to the Dropbox website and go to the Files area, where you will see a list of your files. Click on the ellipsis menu next to a file and select Version history to see older versions.

File version history on Dropbox website
File version history

You can restore an older version by clicking Restore, or click on the file name to see a preview. From here, you can download the file, which may be useful for comparing an older version to the current version.

Restore a Deleted File

To restore a deleted file, go to the Dropbox website and log in. On the file list page, click Show deleted files. Deleted files will now be displayed, with a rubbish bin icon and a Deleted notation.

Restoring a deleted file on Dropbox
Restoring a deleted file

Click on the file’s ellipsis menu and select Restore. Confirm, and the file will be restored and downloaded to your computer, where it will re-appear in your Dropbox folder.


The video below is a screencast, showing Dropbox being used to save, backup, and restore files.

Hire Me

If you need help with installing Dropbox or setting up a complete backup solution, email me.

Backup Your Manuscripts And Marketing Files

Some time ago, I read a news story about an author who ran into a burning house to save his laptop. Luckily, the author survived and rescued the novels stored on his laptop. If he’d had a backup, he wouldn’t have had to risk his life to save his work. Backups will also save you from burglary, computer failure, and simple human error like mistakenly deleting files or chapters.


What is a Backup?

At its simplest, a backup is just a spare copy of any important files, like your manuscripts. Ideally, a backup will have the following properties:

  • It’ll be located in a different physical location. A backup won’t save your work from a fire or burglars if it’s next to your computer.
  • Backups will happen automatically. If you have to remember to do it, you might forget, or decide that something else is more important.
  • It’ll keep older versions as well as the most recent one. This enables you to reverse changes if you need to.
  • It will retain deleted files. If you delete a file by accident, you can get it back from the backup.
  • If your files are stored by a third party, they should be encrypted. This keeps your private files private.

How to Make a Backup

Many authors aren’t very technical, and those that are probably already have a backup routine in place. Luckily, there are plenty of simple options. Online cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive will probably suffice for a work in progress, but these services usually don’t offer encryption, so I can’t recommend them for sensitive or private files. Three possible solutions are CarboniteCrashplan, and Mozy. All three work on Windows and Mac, provide all the features listed above, and aren’t too expensive.

I’ve used Dropbox for several years, but have little experience of the others, so can’t recommend them. They all have limited free options though, so you can try them out and see which one works for you.

Mr Backup

Backup your Website, Mailing List & Email

Your web and mailing list hosts probably have backup procedures in place, but it’s still sensible to keep your own backups. If your web or mailing list host decides to terminate your account because you’ve contravened your terms of service (whether you did or not), a backup will allow you to switch to a new provider.

With hosted WordPress websites, you’re largely reliant on them for backups, though you can go to Tools->Export in the admin area to export your posts and pages (not images). For self-hosted WordPress sites, there are plugins to help with backups. I have used BackWPUp, which will backup your database and files, and can save the backup to various places.

MailChimp, ConvertKit, and Aweber have reasonably straightforward instructions for exporting data. You can also export your data from FacebookTwitter, and Google. Unfortunately, Facebook’s export doesn’t include data from pages. For email, you’ll have to check your email provider’s help pages to find out how to export your messages. There isn’t a simple way to automate any of these, so I suggest you set up a repeating reminder in a calendar program. If you really want an automatic option, it may be possible to set up a recipe on If This Then That to (for instance) append Tweets to a file in Dropbox.

Test Your Backups Regularly

A backup is worthless if you can’t get your files back from it. Periodically check your backups and make sure you can restore files. This doesn’t have to be complicated, just pick several files at random. For each one, restore the latest version, plus an older version.

Hire Me

If you want one-to-one help, or you want me to set something up for you, email me and we can discuss your requirements.

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