Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's a Sad Story

As embarrassing as this may be to admit, especially for a technology addict like myself, I feel I should come clean in the hopes that it might save someone else from the painful reality I am now faced with. [Yes, this grammar teacher ended that last sentence with a preposition...moving on.] It is a sad story I will call "From Memory to Senility."

You see, my home computer, a PC, once had a lovely memory. It held onto everything for me: photos of family, friends, students, and pets; household documents like tax information and addresses, both email and home, of friends, family, and clients (I am also a massage therapist); and, of course, school documents: lesson plans, unit plans, handouts, research, flipcharts for my Promethean activboard. You name it (because I can't remember everything), it was on there.

Did you notice the use of the word "was" in that last sentence?

Wait. Let me back up a bit (because I can't seem to remember to do that when I should).

I spent a lovely few days over Christmas at my mom and dad's house in the California foothills. We even had a white Christmas! My first in many years. I took my laptop with me because I wanted to do some organizing of files, and my dad is the King of Organization when it comes to All Things Mac! (he's a really cool guy, that dad of mine! Something I don't think I've ever told him.)

Dad and I spent some quality time in front of my MacBook, and he gave me lots of wonderful ideas on how to organize my files and photos. He also reminded me about the need for regularly backing up EVERYTHING! I've always been really good about backing up my laptop; well, at least since it crashed last year and the hard drive had to be replaced. Lucky for me, that our school computers are regularly backed up to the school server. But, after that experience, I went out and purchased an external hard drive which I use with my MacBook on a weekly basis.

The same could not be said for my PC. While talking to dad, I made a mental note to purchase a second external hard drive to use with the PC. The Sunday after Christmas I went down to Fry's Electronics (I love that place!) and purchased a 500-gig external hard drive. When I got home and started looking at my severely cluttered desktop, I thought it would be best to unclutter the desktop and do some organizing of files, photos, and various other documents.

I spent a good deal of Sunday afternoon doing just that, and was actually feeling pretty proud of my work. But it wasn't quite finished, so I shut down for the night and planned on finishing the clean-up Monday morning, after which I would hook up that lovely new hard drive.

Any guesses what happened next? I woke up Monday morning, turned on the computer, and stared at the large Windows icon on the screen, the one that's supposed to stay there for about two seconds while Windows is starting up. "Hmm," I thought to myself. "Why is it not moving past this screen?" Now, I wasn't quite awake yet, and I was in desperate need of caffeine, so I didn't quite process in my own internal hard drive what was happening. "Must just be slow today."

Unfortunately, it wasn't the computer that was was me. Slow on the uptake, slow on the back-up. My computer is currently back at Fry's, where I purchased it, waiting its turn in line to be serviced. I'm fearing the worst: loss of everything not backed up recently (I would define "recently" for you, but I'm already depressed). My brother suggests looking at this as an opportunity to start anew with a clean, fresh hard drive. I could do that.

[Yes, that's me...back in the day.]

I guess for now I'll just share my sad story with you and leave you with one question:

Have you backed up lately?
P.S. As Alice mentions in one of the comments below, Cheryl Oakes has a wonderful post on the techLearning blog called It Is Not a Matter of If...


Anonymous said...

Ooh! You have my sympathy. I think it's a lesson we all learn the hard way. Our technician deleted my entire drive last year so now I back up often. Well, often for me. (When my time machine reminds me). One big change I have made since then is that all my docs are online and so are most of my photos and videos. I'm with your brother on this one. New year, new beginnings. This too will pass.

Anonymous said...

Oh no! I hope they are able to work on your computer without losing your work!

I back up once every couple of months or when my computer behaves as if it's got a virus. I like the idea of backing up weekly.

Good luck with your PC.

Bob Cotter said...

The almost saddest backup story I can tell you had a happy ending, so I hope there is one for you too. In the late 1980s a teacher brought me a floppy disk asking if I could get the data off. He said it was his Masters Thesis, almost done. I asked about backup, none. I asked about a printout in case he needed to retype it, none. Fortunately, I was able to recover the data on that floppy disk and he was happy. I wish for the same success with Fry's for you.

I'm very happy to use Time Machine on my Mac and I also use Carbon Copy Cloner. Two backups for the home computer, but only time machine for my district laptop.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this! I am so sorry to hear about your PC, but sometimes the tech folks can work wonders. Have your read the article by Cheryl Oakes at TechLearning; it's not a matter of if... but when! I ask my students to back up regularly and they say they don't have time, I just can't understand that! I guess it doesn't matter until they lose something of value. I hope you don't lose anything. I hope your "Sad Story" has a happy ending!

Unknown said...

I have high hopes that there is just a small problem that can be easily solved using safe mode. You have learned your lesson- Frye's will save the day and you will be able to look back at that day and smile sweetly.
Let us know how it all turns out.

Tammy Worcester said...

Guess what I'm going to do right now???

Cheryloakes50 said...

Yes, thanks for the link to my post, it isn't a matter of if... now check out Bob Sprankle's followup, it is WHEN Sad stories only happen once for the individual. The hardest part is convincing others. You did a nice job explaining the pain.

Patti Harju said...

I also have a portable hard drive that I use on my laptop. All my pics, doc's etc are on there. I do need to get a backup for my son's desktop and the family desktop, and have been thinking about it. You have motivated me to get it done now!

Good luck!

Anonymous said...


Then fix tech stuff.

Then backup again.

That's the sequence.