Though my clients might still be around to worry about their data, in which case it might be useful if someone knew my main password. If the machine is trashed, one ought to be able to get to the data by removing the drive altogether, but if it’s only the Sallie that’s trashed, perhaps better to keep the computer intact. (Though I don’t know…maybe I’d prefer to have it self-destruct if I stop breathing. I go back and forth on these kinds of things.)
Let’s pass over the question of whether it’s morbidity or senility that turning 40 has brought me, however, and get on to the stories I said I’d have for you last week. So we’ll start with Sandy’s dead CrackBerry. Sandy is the author of the about-to-be released book fEmpowerment: A Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Bond Girl, but no special effects were used in the creation of this story.
My BlackBerry has “off and on” had the bottom line of keys stop working (that means, for example, b-n-m do not work). A “hard reboot” (dumping the battery out and back in) fixes it. It doesn’t happen all that often, so I hadn’t taken the time to go get another machine from the Nextel folks.
Monday, I was out and about, and (of course) I have a passcode on my BlackBerry. My passcode includes the letter “B.” I’m sure that you can imagine where this is going… I hit the passcode to get in a few times, “counting down” the passwords you’re “allowed.” Used them all—it dumped the BlackBerry and then gave me a “507” error (which is a circle with a line through it, over a small picture of the screen—not very pleasant).
After I cursed a lot, I had a “light bulb” moment and realized what had probably happened. So I went home, since now the machine was a hunk of junk. (Have you seen the guy put the iPhone through the blender in “Will it Blend?” That’s how I felt.) I figured that I had to call support and they would ask for my mother’s maiden name and 2nd aunt’s middle initial, and then they would allow me to boot up the hunk of junk.
Uh—no. If you do this, your BlackBerry gets fried. As in no retrieval-oh.
Luckily I synch the BlackBerry every day when I get home—so I’d “only” lost what I’d done that day while out and about. And far MORE luckily, I have a service plan that includes “real person” support, so I toddled off to the Nextel store, and they replaced it with a new machine, and I synched it up to the computer, and downloaded all the info back into it.
So, that’s the words to the wise.
I don’t actually use any kind of a PDA at all, but having no option but to recycle the hardware seems like a slightly extreme reaction to password problems, and it’s not like Sandy was carrying military secrets around. I suspect this particular “feature” of the BlackBerry was invented to satisfy security-conscious enterprise and government users, who are daily embarrassed by stories of laptops, backup tapes, and the like falling into the wrong hands.
It’s harder to see the value of total hardware lockout to an individual. And come to that, frying the device if you mess up your password doesn’t prevent employees from deliberately passing on company data. I hope they can at least send it back to the factory and get it refurbished and reissued.
On the other hand, Sandy did get a new device with working keys out of the adventure. Because the data was backed up, having to replace the BlackBerry was annoying and inconvenient, but not catastrophic.
Then there was my colleague Donna Papacosta in Canada, where Apple is apparently less paranoid about repossessing dead hard drives than they are in the US. Her 13-month-old MacBook keeled over without warning one day. “Of COURSE my files were backed up,” she said in response to my comment on her original post. “Except for the ones that weren’t.”
Unless you’re using a continuous data protection solution that copies everything the minute it changes (and eats bandwidth for breakfast), you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose *some* files if you suffer a fatal drive error. Donna is now backing up several times a day, both online and to an external drive. That’s often enough that anything that slips through the cracks is probably something you can live without, or recent enough to be easier to re-create than the project you were working on last week.
Get all the details of Donna’s MacBook adventures on the Trafcom News Blog. But make a backup before you go off to read it.