Data Loss

Bugs in software suck. Essential features not working as expected, bad. Needed but missing features, frustrating.

But the worst thing a piece of software can do is destroy your data. Over the years I’ve had stories corrupted by Word, ideas ‘disappeared’ in OneNote, and too many database nightmares.

So when I wrote the writing platform YourOtherMind I really focused on making it respect the user’s data. This is one of the main reasons I have the data saved as XML instead of a faster, database driven system — I wanted the data to be open enough that most users could ‘recover from catastrophe’ on their own. To some people this might seem like accepting defeat but in my opinion some sort of software failure is inevitable — whether its caused by a new feature not tested enough in the real world before deployment or an operating system update that flips a precarious bit somewhere.

Creating 99% reliable software is difficult; 100% reliable software, impossible.

In the last year I’ve had two data loss experiences with YourOtherMind. One was really bad, losing a couple hours of work, one minor, losing a couple minutes. Both incredibly frustrating and annoying.

So with an upcoming update to be released in the next week (if testing goes well) I’ve added a few new features to help minimize data loss:

  • Autosave. An autosave feature has been added, user can customize autosave interval
  • Backup Files When a note is saved a backup file is created in the \export folder. If the software crashes during a save, this file will be restored, meaning that the most data lost would be from the time of the last autosave
  • Export There already exists a feature wherein a user can go to Tools|AdvancedExport|Current Page and will save a copy of the current note in the \export folder. This has been improved with the next version in that instead of overwriting the backed up note, copies will be made

And there are already several data preservation methods available in YourOtherMind:

  • Versioning Any individual text note can be versioned, which means a snapshot of the text at the moment can be stored and later compared against (use the find bar for this, Features|Versions).
  • Full Backup A full backup of all notes can be performed via Notebook|Backup.

Please use this page to comment if you have had data loss experiences with YourOtherMind — the more I know about the more I can fix!