Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Writer's Horror Story

I’ve felt so smug for the past six months. When my not-so-old laptop blew it mother board at the beginning of NaMo last year, I lost a great deal of my work in progress. I went through the painful process of buying a new desktop and worried through all the problems fraught with setting it up.

Getting all the programs installed in English instead of Italian took a lot of time. I can use the Italian, but it’s easier in English, and I want easy. I’m a touch typist so configuring Italian keyboard, which has symbols in different places, became the next order of business. What you see on my keyboard now is NOT what you get. Oh, sometimes I have to remind myself where a certain key is because, if I think about it, my brain shuts down. If I trust my fingers, they will find it.

I worried most about all the data I had lost. So I contracted with SOS Online Backup. It has been comforting to see that little backup icon churning away every morning. During the few weeks that I was offline, I agonized over the possibility that I might have a breakdown and lose data. I put stuff on a thumb drive every day, and the moment I got connected I logged in to SOS Backup and ran a full recovery.

This morning, disaster struck. My smug heart fell when I opened the file for today's blog in preparation for posting it and found the snippet for a future post in its place. I’m not sure how it happened, but I had overwritten this week’s blog post. Aghhh!

Not to worry. I have SOS Online Backup. But I couldn’t find any saved files. I fiddled with the account. I contacted online support. Still no files. Finally, the techie called me. It seems that my account had been set up to backup my C drive, something that I thought strange at the time, so only program files have been backed up for the past six months. No documents!! So the lovely blog that I had planned to post today has been lost. I’ll rewrite it another day.

This day will be devoted to trying to get things backed up properly. No writing for me today. If you have any lost document horror stories, I hope you will share them in the comments section.


P.A.Brown said...

When I lived in Bermuda I had a total disaster. I became very ill and had to be flown to a hospital on the mainland. With no one to look out for my property, including my computer and all the neat little backups I had made on disk and USB.

I lost it all. All my WIPs, some completed stories, including some old science fiction I'd never tried to get published. That amounted to over a decade of work. The only reason I got 2 back was I had sent my novel to my agent, so she had a copy, and one of my SF stories had been kept by the owner of a critique group I was with.

After that I got Mozy backup and scheduled backup every night. When I switched to Linux Mozy didn't work so I found Dropbox. I liked it over any others I've tried and heard about -- it has a unique way of backing up. Instead of a schedule to run backup at a certain time, it backs up immediately when you save a file in the Dropbox folder.

An added bonus is Dropbox saves versions. If a file becomes corrupt, or you make a mistake saving something, you can recover an older version.

Dropbox has saved me more than once when a computer crashes or refuse to boot like it did one time, requiring a reinstall.

You can also share files with someone else and you can access your files from any computer that can get online, from anywhere.

But whichever way you go, everyone should have some kind of offsite backup. It's not just enough to have backups to external drives or USB sticks. Those can be destroyed in a natural disaster. Offsite your data is saved no matter what.

Here's a link if anyone wants to check it out.

Always have your stuff when you need it with @Dropbox. 2GB account is free!

Patricia Winton said...

Wow, what a horrible experience. At least I didn't lose everything because I have the thumb drive. Last November, I lost about five months of work, and that hurt, but it wasn't everything.

P.A.Brown said...

I'd lost stuff before that. Not saving often enough and getting caught in a pc crash. But that was the most catastrophic loss. I still feel the loss when a memory of a story I had finished comes back.

In the same vein, I stopped using private email providers. I have two domains registered and I could have emails with both, but I use Gmail, because that was something else I lost -- my online account. I think I've recovered most of the contacts I had, but I'll never know. With a Gmail account, that will never happen.

Eugenia Parrish said...

I save my docs on a small external "brain" drive, but unless I carry it around in my purse all the time, I worry about it being damaged by fire, etc. And everytime I run a download to it, my cranky old computer wants to sulk and lock up for days. On the other hand, what if your online backup goes out of business? Or gets hacked? Worry, worry, worry! At least I won't be leaving it all in a trunk on a train.

Patricia Winton said...

There doesn't seem to be a happy solution.

Ellis Vidler said...

I've lost many files but never the whole lot--at least not since my TRS80 days. I've used the recovery feature on Microsoft more than once and it works. But to lose even one document you've worked on is terrible. You all have my sympathy!

Kath said...

Oh, Patricia, I'm so sorry. I am going to be much more conscientious about saving to Dropbox! WOW!

You do have a time with computers! Do you think they have it in for you?
Not that that is paranoid. But you know. If someone really is following you, it's not paranoia.

Patricia Winton said...

Kath, the frustrating thing is that I embrace technology. I'm relatively computer literate, and I enjoy seeing how things work. It is frustrating to have twice lived in blissful ignorance that I had everything backed up only to lose something. At least this time, it was just one file (at least that's all I've found). Yesterday, I got myself fixed up with Dropbox. We'll see how that goes.