Google Documents

As many of you know, I had a hard drive crash last summer in which I lost two chapters of my novel-in-progress, The Sleep of Reason. With much effort and gnashing of teeth, I managed to reconstruct those chapters and move on with the telling of the story. (It’s now five chapters later, and I think the wounds have healed.)

Sometimes I have to learn lessons the hard way, and this was one of those times. I now make regular backups of my work, in triplicate.

Nonetheless, I continue to look for effective and secure, offsite ways to backup and store my documents. There are a number of services that will provide space for such a thing, and given the volume I would require, most of them are free. Still, there is a part of my withered and craven heart that is suspicious of such sites.

Is the data secure? I know that the fancy that someone would steal my writing is grounded more in egotism than reality, but it could happen. (And I really do feel a profound confidence in this story that I’ve never felt in the many other things I’ve written.) Is the data safe? I’ve read of one offsite storage system that, oops, lost for all time plenty of data that was entrusted to it. And is the service really free? I can imagine a site offering a free service to the point that I become dependent upon it, and then explaining how I must pay if I will continue to use the service.

While I harbor a suspicion that Google intends to take over the earth, I’ve begun fooling around with Google Documents. It is an offsite storage and backup system, and since it is hosted by Google, I am confident that it will not have any hiccups that will cost me my saved files.

I’ve uploaded a short story and the latest chapter of The Sleep of Reason there just to see how things work. The upload process is a little more manual than I would like if I were moving great numbers of files, but for the little bit of fooling around I’m doing, it’s not a hardship. To have a Google Documents account you must also have a Gmail account, but I already do, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t object to having yet another email address to use for this or that.

For now I’m not going to use Google Documents as a backup site. I’ll continue to toy with it and see how it works. What I am finding useful about it, though, is how it instantly makes the files portable. Quite literally from any internet-accessible computer in the world, I can get to my files and do work there. The function I’m using in Google Documents has a rudimentary word processor in it, so I can tinker or even write from whole cloth, when I’m away from my trusty laptop (you are trusty now, aren’t you, laptop?). Any changes I make there won’t automatically feed back to my own computer, but I can do this manually when the opportunity arises.

So this post is by no means a testimonial for the Google Documents service. I’m just trying it out. If you have any experience with the service — or others like it — I’d love to hear about it.

Explore posts in the same categories: Rants and ruminations

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