Scripped.com and other sites that have failed me.

A recent “special episode” of Scriptnotes delved into the failure of Scripped.com, a site where screenwriters could compose in a web browser and save their work in the cloud. After the site was sold, a server error led to the loss of years’ worth of backups, and the new owner was ill-prepared to fix the problem.

This was of particular interest to me because I used Scripped on a project several years ago — in fact that screenplay would still be there if not for the server dump. At the time, I was intrigued by the option of writing online. I’ve never been a fan of Final Draft or Movie Magic (having used both). I began writing scripts using a screenplay template in Word (a bit of a pain to set up) which might still be my favorite experience, although I do enjoy Celtx.

Anyway, even in 2009 I was wary of putting all my chickens in one program. After each day’s writing, I would download a pdf of my work as backup. So the Scripped.com purge didn’t affect me specifically.

However, it got me thinking about other such evaporations I’ve witnessed over the years.

MESSAGE BOARDS

I now see message boards like social media — ephemeral, mainly to be used for conversation, not archiving. I used to converse a quite a bit on boards at Indieclub.com (for filmmaking) and Dread Central (horror movie fandom). There were threads that were full of great information, so I bookmarked some to read again. But the internet is impermanent, and those pages are now gone. This was due to software upgrades at Indieclub and a change of site owners at Dread Central (which used to be under the umbrella of The Horror Channel). What’s the lesson? If I find something really useful in a board, I should copy it to a file on my hard drive.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Forums like those have mostly given way to social media like Twitter and Facebook… and Myspace. Wow, I put a lot of time into Myspace. But it became unwieldy, so I walked away when Facebook came knocking. When it finally pivoted into a music site, I didn’t weep for my lost page. I’d been trained to be a digital nomad by that point.

WEBSITES I’VE BUILT

I once had a client’s website¬†totally wiped out when the webhost upgraded their servers. Didn’t I have backups? Well, this was before I learned exactly how WordPress worked. I had template design backups but not the MySQL database, where all the content for posts lived. A learning experience! …Which is what I told myself as I rebuilt the site from memory.

Under my own Mad Dog Movies network, my Ominous Events wiki tanked at one point, and I never found out why. I actually had the MySQL backup, but at that point I was sick of writing in wiki code and following its format rules. Instead, I restarted the site in WordPress. It’s not the same as it was, but I’m not certain how much time I want to put into the site.

BOOKMARKS

I use Delicious.com to bookmark everything I like online, But some bookmarked sites from years ago have evaporated. I could investigate other bookmarking services that take snapshots of pages, but I rarely go back that far in time when searching for links. Plus, there’s always the wayback machine for archived pages at Archive.org.

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The shifting sands of cloud computing should worry me more, but I do my best to back things up. I try to spread it around, too, hosting my sites on my own server (rented from a webhost) and doing periodical backups. I’m deep into using Google programs and Dropbox, but try to keep everything there on hard drives as well. Fingers remain crossed.