- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Nothing in this world is guaranteed, and, sadly, some eventualities are more tragic than others. A friend, living in the District, discovered this over the weekend when their apartment — and several others — were burgled, and relieved of all electronics, including the two computers on which a book manuscript, and crucial backup notes, are stored.

There’s a chance, as with previously stolen computers from the Veterans Affairs department and other federal agencies, that the missing hardware might be recovered, and there’s an equal chance the data could be retrieved. Already, my friend has taken some solace in knowing their book manuscript — but not the notes — is stored in electronic form.

But while some authors have had to start over from scratch and reconstruct their work, there’s less of a need for that to happen these days. Services such as Apple Computer’s .Mac and AOL’s Xdrive offer storage of 1 Gigabyte (Apple) and 5 GB (XDrive). The Apple approach, which is part of a $99-per-year subscription, is seamlessly integrated into the Mac OS. XDrive’s 5GB is free (and 20 times the .Mac’s basic storage) and works with Macs and Windows PCs. (For an extra $49.95 per year, Apple will upgrade your storage to 2 GB.)

For the truly concerned, an outfit called Enveloc will sell you daily, online backup starting at $19 a month for 2 GB, but their service appears to work only on Windows computers.

However you do it, save your critical files. Then, if the worst happens, you’ll have some comfort amidst the detritus.

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