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Monday, November 07, 2005

Things to thank Mom for

A writing friend lost the last two chapters of her manuscript the other day -- two chapters that she said had been created in blood, sweat and tears. Another writing friend had her entire computer crash a few months back, losing unsaved copies of her work in the process. In the office we used to have a system melt about twice a year. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. You are in the middle of writing something and *POW*, the computer goes, and so does what you are working on -- no option to save to USB or disk. Sometimes you just don't think about making a backup, or truly forget when the last full backup was. Backing up is easy...remembering to do it? Not as much.

My friend's story and pain last week reminded me of something that happened in high school...something that probably traumatized me enough that I have been a pretty zealous back-em-upper since.

It was around midnight and I had just finished a two paged, single-spaced paper for class. The paper had taken me all night to research and create, and I remember that although it wasn't the best thing I had written, it was acceptable. Enter our IBM XT, with its 640KB and tank-like appearance. I can't remember precisely what happened, whether it was a user error (most likely) or the computer shut down, but needless to say, the computer turned off and the paper was gone. Gone. Kaput. Unrecoverable.

I was hysterical. The world had ended. I had actually seen it end, and strangely enough it had XT written in the corner. That two paged paper might as well have been my master's thesis for the amount of time it was going to take me to recreate. A mouse? What was that? Arrow keys and scrolling were the only editing tools, and heaven help you if you needed to highlight the entire document (we often did this to make the dot matrix printer output darker). And that didn't even take into account the typing (I had just learned) and plain old creating I was going to have to do -- redoing from the topic sentence to the bitter end. I went from hysterical to hyperventilating.

Enter Mom. She made me spill why I was acting as if my cat had died, then calmly pushed me into a chair -- my face red and blotchy, my nose sniffling pitifully -- and opened the word processing program. She proceeded to stay up with me until 3 or 4am typing the paper as I dictated -- and printing it out every so often so we could always recover the damn thing. And truthfully, that paper was twice as good the second time around, due to my Mom asking questions throughout and not letting me get away with sloppiness. Not that I want to repeat the experience (not including the Mom parts) ever again.

So take a moment and backup your computer. I'm going to send my Mom a hug.


At 4:31 AM, Blogger Colleen Gleason said...

Oh, yes. Been there, done that. Too many times to count. The last and most painful time was when I lost the first three chapters of my new work in progress--which, when completed, turned out to be my first sold book.

(As in your case, Anne, my recreation turned out much better than the original...but then, I didn't have to redo those chapters in one night.)

So a few months ago, I invested in a NAS--don't ask me what the NAS stands for--which is basically an external hard drive and a port for my printers. It uses my wireless network, which means that I can not only print from any computer anywhere in the house, but I can back up any drive from any computer anywhere in the house.

Do I back up? Yep. Every week or so, I just copy my entire MyDocs folder to the drive.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Anne Mallory said...

Colleen, we have a 320GB hard drive with backup software that we use for all the computers. But I usually just copy over My Documents too -- that way I can manually retrieve things as well. It doesn't have a printer hookup though, which would be really nice!

I always feel a sense of relief after I make a backup. Craziness. :)

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Anne, what a mom you have. Yay, Anne's mom!

Okay, I'm going to burn a couple of CDs of my files now. I CAN'T lose this stuff.


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