Those of you who’ve known me a while — and maybe I’ve mentioned this before — will remember an issue I had once with a desktop PC – where I woke up in the early morning hours smelling smoke, and found it on fire.

It had been Off, and just sitting there minding it’s own business, but sure enough, it caught on fire and the hard drive quite literally melted.  I ended up selling some components out of the case to a friend, and throwing all of my files and programs out the window. They were completely unrecoverable, due to a physical melting of the drive itself.

And over the years, I’ve used that as fuel to harp on other people about the importance of backing up your files. Backing up, backing up, and backing up again.

Keep copies of your files on CD, or little USB sticks – maintain an external drive for storage. Establish a routine once a month or more, wherein you copy and back up and save.

Good advice.  Excellent, thoughtful advice.

Didn’t stick with me, though.

Well it did in a manner of speaking. I used that advice as an excuse to buy a Dell Mini last year, and had every intention of backing up every single file on the Inspiron to the Mini – and as luck would have it, I did back up all of my photos and fiction. I was “going to” do the rest next weekend, or thereabouts.

And I do have another Inspiron, a younger, more powerful one, but I let my sister use that exclusively because I never bothered to customize it to myself, therefore my “stuff” isn’t on it.

Naturally, you’ve already figured out what I’m about to say . . .  My laptop died !  My beloved, aggravating, 8-year old somewhat finicky but usually trustworthy Inspiron had a massive heart attack while trying to update to Windows Service Pak 3.

Now all I can get is the Blue Screen of Ultimate Doom, Death and Destruction. My poor baby won’t even boot in Safe Mode, not even a little bit. I can’t reach DOS no matter how much I plead and beg. He’s dead, Jim. Nothin’.  Nada.

Here I sit, using the other Inspiron at the moment instead of the Mini, neither one of which holds copies of ALL of my files – bemoaning the fact that I could have avoided this headache if only I’d taken my own advice.  If I’d backed up both PC’s onto the Mini, and the Mini back up again on an external, and a handful of USB sticks.

I spent yesterday contemplating, with a lot more calm than I expected, what exactly I’ve lost and what I’ll miss the most. Frankly, the most important files are my writing, and they ARE backed up on the Mini and the other Inspiron. I do have good priorities, at least!   I’ll miss my emails the most, I think. I’m a saver of emails and often go back through them to find things, so that’ll be a pain.  And today I realized I was letting Windows save my passwords and got used to not bothering to remember them, so logging in to things is a pain. I’m sure there are things I don’t even remember saving that I’ll find out I miss at some point.  Like when you clean out the house and throw something away you haven’t used in years, and suddenly you need it again.

Ultimately, I can live without it all. Obviously this isn’t a matter of great wailing and moaning. I still have my health, after all.  It’s just a right pisser.

And I’ve contacted a guy I know who thinks he can rescue the data, put it on some CDs – and he’ll see if he can repair the machine itself and bring it back to life for under $200, I told him anything more than that is just a waste of money.

So, let this be a lesson – to me!  I’m buying an external hard drive this weekend, because frankly the Mini needs one (those little toys don’t come with CD drives!) and I’m making yet another vow  – Always Back Up Your Data !

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

For the Love of Gawd – Copy, Copy, Copy!

5 thoughts on “Oopsies

  1. Oops, I am also guilty of not ‘regularly’ backing-up my files. And I also had a hard-drive die (screeching and screaming–and no data could be recovered). A painful lesson indeed.

  2. I sort of back up everything, in that I tend to e-mail the vast majority of stuff out into the world. So it’s all floating around my G-mail somewhere.

    I COULD say something snooty like “well, because I handwrite everything, ALL my fiction is safe from computer crashes, so hah.” But really, all my fiction is at risk of a single cup of coffee, or a cat throwing up, and I’m screwed. 🙂

    This is, in theory, what the advantage of “cloud computing” is. Your computer crashes, but all your DATA is floating in the big cloud-overmind on the internet, so you can just sign in and have it all from another computer.

    I can’t get on with it though. The fact that I can describe it as “cloud-overmind” is enough to give me the willies and keep me away.

  3. I’d recommend using a site like Mozy or Carbonite — you can install a small app on your computer and schedule it to perform periodic (usually nightly) backups of all the files in locations of your choosing.

    So, say, My Documents. You select that folder, and every night, the My Documents folder is encrypted and uploaded to Mozy or Carbonite’s servers. They keep redundant, encrypted copies, and theoretically, if your PC were ever to crash, you would still have those copies.

    The benefit of that over the external drive is that with an external drive, you still have the risk of “site failure!” So, say, your computer catches fire and takes your external drive with it, you’d still have your files backed up, off-site, where you’d be able to get to them.

    Mozy is free, I’m not sure about Carbonite, and you get something like 2GB worth of storage. Can pay for more than that if you need it.

  4. Ah, but I’m a Professional Paranoid – I’ll never store data in the clouds! I’m now the proud owner of a massive external drive that can’t burn up if my laptop catches fire (like my desktop did once) because it’s stored in another room, not constantly plugged in. As of today, I have all of my data in two seperate, not even networked Laptops, on one external hard drive kept in another room AND the original hard drive, stored in a drawer.

    Makes it all sound like My Data is MUCHO IMPORTANTE – but, yanno, I get all pissy if I lose all those photos of my cats 😀

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