Saturday, October 11, 2008

The life of an author, or anybody who depends on having a computer stay alive, or at least give warning when it's about to implode: do not, ever, walk away from yours without backing up whatever you've been doing on it. And never forget just because the machine seems to be in great shape!

Blue, my cat, has taken up guarding my machine now that I have it back, or rather now that I have a new one and several thousand dollars less in the bank. He probably has more sense than I did when I forgot one of my own unbreakable rules and forgot to back up my works in progress for a disastrous period of three weeks. :(

Two works in progress, one almost finished, the other about half completed. Poof. Gone one hot night in late August when Tampa Electric had an inexplicable power surge and outage while we slept. Next morning, the computer was making funny noises, intermittent beeping. As I shut it down, I heard sizzling noises. FRIED. I took a deep breath, hauled the machine to my guru...and prayed.

'Twas all to no avail. The machine was gone. Wires melted into motherboard. Fans melted and seized up. Worst of all, the slave hard drive where I kept my finished books along with works in progress, was destroyed beyond recovery although the gurus tried very hard to get even bits and pieces of it back. The good thing: I had an 80 gig external drive to which I was supposed to back up all this data weekly (the chore I'd forgotten to do for two disastrous weeks. The bad thing: I hadn't been switching off to my laptop for a while and hence had not copied the works in progress over there, and I'd also neglected to put the WIPs onto a flash drive I often use to load onto the laptop.

My bad! I can blame the electric company for frying the computer, but I can only blame myself for the month of computer hell I've gone through. I'd have written this warning sooner, but I've been doing a 24/7 marathon,(or almost) rewriting the lost manuscript that was due in to my editor first. The second one, I start reclaiming on Monday. At least I have the old book on which it's to be very loosely based.

Don't ever, ever get yourself into such a position! BACK UP. Re-back up. Do it every day, even if it begins to seem like wasted effort. Computer hell is as hot and unpleasant as any form of torture the real devil might come up with down in his fiery pits!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann

Sorry for your troubles - I've had 3 computers crash on me, and the biggest lesson I've taken away is that the best backup plan is one that gets done, and the backup plan that gets done has to be easy/automatic.

In a pinch I send copies of my most important document (my wip masters thesis) to my web-based email account several times a day. This is good, because you have offsite copy/copies of your work, that would not be affected by anything that disrupts your local IT setup, like the power surge that wiped out your computer and external hard drive.

Here is an plan for a Windows PC automatic backup schedule.

They also have one for MACs, if that is what you use.

If you want to be really safe, try this, but be warned, it needs a higher level of tech knowledge (the instructions are comprehensive), but it could potentially automatically email a file backup every 20 minutes (or less frequently if you prefer)

(Make sure Word is automatically saving the file at least every 10 minutes - I also have Word automatically save a backup copy of my files)

I hope this helps. :-)


P.S. - I love your books