Wednesday, June 18, 2014

To Live and Die by the Sword

I’m a fine one to give advice. I have for years ranted on this blog about backing up your work, get it on separate thumb drives, backup drives, Dropbox or some other cloud related storage facility. And do it often. Today is not soon enough.

Well, I did not follow my advice. The last time I backed up my documents and images was about May 15. And of course Monday my hard drive failed. It’s very disheartening to call Apple Care (they picked up within ten seconds – now that’s service) and then go through the motions to try and resuscitate the beast (27” iMac – my second love) but to no avail. Then, after getting an appointment at the Genius Bar (obviously this does not apply to me), I drove the twenty miles to the closest store with an opening. I then carried the computer (maybe forty pounds or so) through the mall (a thousand eyes watched without pity) and quietly and patiently sat in the waiting area knowing that all the others sitting there had the same thought – “Why didn’t I backup yesterday?”

When my name was called (this is so doctor’s office-ish) I whispered my sad story. “It whirled excessively last week, really slow, I read all the posts about the problem on-line. Maybe I should have tried to do a backup then.” The gentleman (actually a kid who could have been my grandson) understandingly shook his head and then brought out a bundle of cables and hooked her up to some in-house software that would hopefully and miraculously give me few minutes more. It is quite shocking when across the screen in red letters two inches high the word the FAILED appears.

He quietly asked if I would like the old hard drive (i.e. heart) after the transplant. I considered what would happen if I took it: I would spend hours chasing down a tech guy who would promise to retrieve my data, I would then more waste hours waiting, then find out that nothing could be saved or worse it would be a mess and I would then take more hours to try and retrieve/fix the files. I opted not to accept the drive; my time would be better spent rebuilding the new covers for the summer release of the old O’Mara books and redoing the last edit of my newest book, Diamonds for Death (due out in October). I also hoped that the wedding pictures are still on the mail server.

Here are some very important tips:
  • Always backup your data - daily.
  • Keep the backups in a number of places (sticks, thumb drive, small external hard drives, the cloud).
  • Create a chart or process that insures that you follow up daily with backups and also know where it is.
  • When you are finished reading this blog (and thank you very much) go and backup your data – do it now!
For all of us in the writing profession the computer is both a boon and a bust. We get very complacent with the technology and do not respect the simple fact that it is inherently fussy and will stab you in the back. So we talk softly around it knowing they have ears and will, if mistreated, screw you over.

So … lovingly kiss your PC or Mac this morning, maybe with a soft cloth clean the screen, and check the cables, but when you look at the reflection of yourself on that fingerprint free screen remember - you have met the enemy and it is you.

More Later . . . . . . . . . . .

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