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Protecting Your Computer--and Your Manuscript
"Musings" for August 2006

by Margot Finke

Margot Finke's Musings is hosted by:

The Purple Crayon

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If you have written a spellbinding midgrade novel, or a delightful picture book, you need to ensure that it survives on your computer. You have put months (or years?) of writing, research, rewriting and critique sessions into perfecting your literary masterpiece: make sure it doesn't go AWOL.

How can this happen, you ask? EASILY!

To keep your writing safe, you need to give serious thought, plus
a little time, to protecting your computer. These days, worms are not just bait for catching fish. The kind of viruses that gobble up your data can't be cured with an antibiotic. All writers know that the copyright process offers powerful protection for their writing. Find equally powerful protection for your manuscript while it is still on your computer.

There are 6 major steps that help you protect your writing and your computer:

#1 - Save Your Writing:

Save your writing before your behind leaves the chair. There are a variety of ways to do this. Burn important documents onto a CD. Save them to a floppy disk or an external ZIP drive. You can also save them to another hard drive. Warning: Don't wait until your manuscript is completed before you save it. Save every time you close a file or folder. This will keep all those agonizing tweaks and rewrites absolutely safe.

#2 - Install Great Virus Protection:

There are a variety of excellent virus protection programs available - both free and for a fee.

#3 - Download a Strong Firewall:

The same advice goes for firewalls. Some are free: others come bundled with a platform, such as XP.

#4 - Add Extras That Can Make All the Difference:

By extras, I mean specific programs you can download. No program can guarantee perfect protection. These extra applications help your computer take care of anything that slips past your firewall or your virus protection. Below are some I can recommend:

#5 - Take the Time to Learn How Your Protection Works:

I am willing to bet most of you have firewalls and virus protection installed on your computers. Set your virus protection to automatically update your computer with the latest "fixes." Otherwise, the program soon becomes outdated and useless - Let's face it, relying on our memories to update manually is asking for trouble, with a capital "T." Your firewall and virus protection also works best if you tweak it to suit your particular needs.

#6 - Don't Download "Stuff" Indiscriminately:

Just because it looks cute, or some e-mail or website promises that it will take away all your computing nightmares, does not make a download safe . Learn where you can access reputable advice, and downloads that do not hide nasties that cause you and your computer endless grief. There are safe download sites out there, so ask friends for the URL of sites they know to offer safe downloading and advice, OR check some of the suggestions below.

Kim Komando's website, and her nationally syndicated radio show, offers terrific resources for dummies as well as for geeks. Her advice is always backed up with testing. Check out her great free Newsletters

PC World Daily Newsletters: Click to sign up for, or unsubscribe from, their newsletters, or to change your newsletter format from text-only to HTML. They offer excellent computer advice, and only recommend applications, hardware and software they have tested.

Download.com is another site I trust.

There are many other helpful programs available on the safe surfing sites I recommended, or on those your friends give you. So, there you have it--6 simple steps that help you make sure your manuscripts, plus anything else of value on your computer, does not become the victim of a worm, a virus, or any other "nasty" the bad guys try to sneak onto your hard drive.


Margot Finke's biography and index to Musings

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