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.
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.
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.
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.
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.