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101 things a translator needs to know – #50

Don’t bury your head in the sand

You are, naturally, aware of the need to back up your work. And you may already have other kinds of back-up in place. For example, a trusted colleague to stand in for you during vacations, preferably someone who writes in a similar style. Maybe you are already revising each other’s work, to your mutual benefit.

But you need to look further. Imagine you are taken ill or stranded away from home, or your office is destroyed by fire.

Don’t bury your head in the sand: draw up a Plan B for various scenarios now, including business insurance, precautions before the event and emergency response after it. Discuss the issue with your colleagues; draw up joint plans. How are you going to access each other’s (back-up) files? And how will the 300-page translation you have nearly finished reach the client on time?

My laptop is entering its twilight years (or rather weeks), meaning I’m just waiting for it to stop working at any time. A new PC is on its way (and there will be a post about that soon!), but until it has arrived and is up and running, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that nothing untoward will happen.

Ever since I lost a whole afternoon’s worth of work in college, I have been a strong proponent of back-ups, and back-ups of back-ups. It has saved me more than once from some pretty dire consequences. I’m talking about lost work, lost communication, looming deadlines, and near heart attacks (hello, blue screen of death!) …

I do a back-up of the important data every night, every Friday night, every last working day of the month, complete back-ups of the entire computer at the end of each month, and always on different mediums, some of them mirrored.

I also have a tablet, which I primarily use for interpreting, but which also serves as a back-up computer if all else fails.

When it comes to Plan B in terms of having a colleague to take over, I do have a good network set up: colleagues I trust both regarding the quality of their work and their integrity.

The only point the Think Tank makes here that I’m not sure about is giving someone else access to my files. I do have an emergency plan for worst-case scenarios, like ending up in the hospital unconscious, but that is mainly for a person I explicitly trust to take care of informing my clients, writing invoices if any, making sure they get paid, and paying any open bills.

Maybe if I worked more regularly with one or more colleagues, shared an office or even had a more binding form of collaboration, that would be a natural step.

Or maybe I’m just too independent… 😉

This is number 50 of the „101 things a translator needs to know“ compiled by WLF Think Tank. If you haven’t heard of it, go to the website and check it out. I got my copy from Chris Durban herself at a translator’s conference in Berlin a few years ago. It is full of useful, often funny, sometimes familiar, but always sound advice both for beginners and seasoned translators.

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