While I was working on Camp NaNoWriMo this year (2014 July), I realized that archiving my work was extremely useful. Essentially, it allows you to go back and see the changes you made (book, screenplay, poem, spreadsheet, etc) over time.
I don’t know about you, but I have older versions of my book stored in weird places, and sometimes it gets confusing which one I’ve made changes to.
To keep track of different versions of you work, archive it! Here are a few different versions of how:
1. Email. Email is probably the simplest, fastest way to archive your work. At the end of each work day (or whenever you feel like you’ve made some progress), draft an email with your file attached. Make sure to use the subject line to your advantage. In the subject line, list Year/Month/Day. Title.
After “Day”, you can add Time if you’ve made multiple changes and archived versions in a single day.
You can also attach multiple files if you want (if, for instance, you have a word count tracking file you want to back up).
The downside to using this version, is if you forget your email password, or if you get a lot of email to that address, or if you empty your inbox, you can lose your files.
2. Keep Archived Files
You can do this either on your own computer, or on a USB drive, external hard drive, or other form of data storage device.
The easiest way to do this is is by following the steps below
Step 1: Create a Folder titled “Archives”. You can put this file on your desktop, on a flash drive, on an external drive, on an online server, whatever you want!
Step 1.5: If you want to have multiple separate archives for different files, you can have different folders inside “Archives” such as “Book1”, “Book2”, “Spreadsheet”.
Step 2: Each time you want to save a version of your file, create a new folder inside the “Archives” folder that follows the same pattern: Year-Month-Day. This way, you can search through your work chronologically.
Step 3: Inside the Year-Month-Day folder, copy your most current version of the file you want to back up.
Saving files in this manner is particularly useful if you want to have multiple backups of your work. So if you’re saving your archived files on your desktop, and you also want to save your archives on a jump drive, all you have to do is copy/paste the “Archives” file onto your USB.
Using either of these methods is a good way to keep track of the changes you make. I, for one, always continually add to my current file, saving over the old version. Archiving your files is the best option for protecting your work and being able to look back at older versions.