As with all computer programs, something will occasionally go wrong while you are working. Your work is the most valuable part of your computer so you really need to be prepared to be able to recover it in case something goes badly wrong on your machine.
People who grew up in the early days of the computer revolution automatically press CTRL+S (save current work) on their computers every couple of minutes, no matter what program they are working. This is still a very good habit than can protect you from losing valuable work. We strongly recommend that you cultivate this "old-fashioned" habit. If you do, you will never need to use the rescue copy feature.
If you are unable to save the project for some reason – for example your project is on a network drive and you lose the connection – Help+Manual will automatically offer you a special "Rescue Copy" option.
How the Rescue Copy works
When this option appears you can then save a special new copy of the project so that you don't lose your current changes. This copy will not contain all the topics of the project. It only contains those topics that you changed since the last save.
Help+Manual can't save the full project in a rescue situation, because then it doesn't have access to the main project any more. Instead, it saves YOUR unsaved work from local memory to an additional Help+Manual project.
How to restore from a Rescue Copy
All the text in your Rescue Copy will be the latest version, so to restore to your main project you just need to copy the content of all the topics in the Rescue Copy to the main project:
1.Open both projects (Rescue Copy and original) in Help+Manual. You may find it easier to open Help+Manual twice, with one project in each instance, so that you have two separate windows.
2.Go through the Rescue Copy and in each topic it contains, click in the editor and press CTRL+A and then CTRL+C to select and copy the entire topic.
3.Then click in the corresponding topic in the original, press CTRL+A to select everything and then CTRL+V to replace it with the more recent version from the Rescue Copy.
4.Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each topic in the Rescue Copy.
While you are working Help+Manual automatically stores your unsaved topics in a backup copy in the background. If the program is ever forced to quit without saving, for example by a Windows or computer crash, or by something that makes Help+Manual itself crash (this is extremely rare), the background copy remains available. When you open the project the next time you have access to it, Help+Manual will offer to restore your unsaved work.
You must accept the restore option the first time it is offered!
If the rescue copy prompt appears, you must accept it immediately if you want to restore your work. If you don't, the old backup copy will be deleted and a new one will be created for the current session.
The topic that was open will not be included
The only edited topic that will not be restored will be the one you were working on when the crash happened. Saving this would interrupt your work while you are editing, so this is excluded from the backup copy. So you will use edits on the last topic you were working on, but only that.
Backup copies with multiple instances of Help+Manual
If you are working on an uncompressed HMXP project it is quite possible have multiple instances of it open in separate instances of Help+Manual on the same computer at the same time, and it is also possible to make different edits in the different instances. Each of these instances will maintain its own backup copy.
If a crash happens in this constellation, you need to open the project in Help+Manual multiple times after the crash, once for each instance that was open. The separate rescue copies will then be restored on after another.
Because of the way Help+Manual works, it is a really bad idea to try to edit projects that are stored in managed cloud folders like DropBox, OneDrive or Google Drive, particularly if you are collaborating on projects with other users. These systems will then create a nightmarish mess of "conflicted copies" of your projects, where it will be difficult or impossible to reassemble your work from all the different versions.
It is fine to back up your projects to managed cloud folders, just don't do active editing on projects in them.
If you are working on your own or in a small group and you are not using a version control system (see below) there are a number of systems that perform ongoing backups of your work in different ways. Ideally, these backups should be in a different location to your computer.
Online backup services
If you have an Internet connection with decent upload speeds it is a good idea to use an online backup service like Backblaze, Carbonite or SugarSync. They make online backups of all your data while you are working and upload your changes as soon as they happen. Since they are remote, the chances of losing both your local copy and your backup is very small.
Alternative backup solutions
You can also use systems like AJC Active Backup, which you purchase once and then configure yourself. You decide where you want to store your backups – it can be on another drive on your computer, an external drive, a network drive or an online location that you have access to. Here too, these systems monitor your files continuously and make backups as soon as you save a new version.
AJC Active Backup is a program created by one of our talented customers. We have no commercial affiliation with AJC, we just think it's a terrific product and an excellent backup solution for Help+Manual projects (ideally uncompressed XML projects in the HMXP format).
One of the most robust backup solutions you can have is a version control system that stores a central copy of your project on a server. In addition to saving your project remotely, it also saves every single change you have ever made, so you have access to all the versions of your project throughout its history, including everything you ever deleted.
Version control is free if you use the excellent Subversion system (SVN), and since it also works via the Internet, it allows multiple authors to collaborate on projects from remote locations. See the chapter on Using Version Control Systems for full details.