This week’s Backup Reminder comes to us from Tracey Franks of Words and Money. Like me, Tracey is a professional writer. Unlike me, she’s an expert on finance. She’s also a Mac user—a recent convert. Since I know that some of my most loyal readers have Macs, I like to include Mac-backup stories whenever I can.
And since I have about a zillion things to do before my mother arrives tomorrow, I’m grateful to have a guest post to offer you.
For some reason I’ve always considered myself to have good computer Karma. Everyone else seemed to have a nightmare come true about losing data or experiencing “the black screen of death.” Even though I had heard plenty of these stories from friends, I never experienced anything like that. Sure, I’d had some freeze ups or forgotten to save a document properly, but I never really lost control of my technology life.
Backing up work is important for everyone, but particularly when you write and edit for a living. The problem is that when I’m deep in concentration on a project, I forget to back up or don’t do it nearly as often as I should. Ideally, I need a backup secretary to just do it for me so I don’t have to think about it. The Tech Guy who comes to my house, and saves me from entering technology hell, always preaches the importance of a backup system. Yeah, I know, but that stuff happens to other people because it’s never happened to me. And off I go back to my corner of denial.
A corporate client had given me a large project that I was working on one morning when my computer Karma ran out. My trusted Sony Vaio had been trying to give me signals for weeks that its hard drive wasn’t feeling well. Like a bad parent, I ignored the signs of impending illness thinking “this too shall pass.” Besides, we’d had a good six year run together without a single problem.
Finishing a piece of the project, I reached for my thumb drive to back it up and then it happened to me…the black screen of death. I’m fairly certain my neighbors could hear the guttural scream that came from somewhere within my body. I reached for the phone and called Tech Guy, begging him to drop everything and recover my work from the bowels of the Sony Vaio. My deadline with the client was hours away.
“Did you back it up?” he asked.
“Um, sort of. Well, some of it,” I replied.
I felt like a little kid who just did something I wasn’t supposed to do, and so I braced myself for the lecture. Tech Guy didn’t give me a lecture, but he did come over and retrieve what I needed to make my deadline. Then we talked about how to get my computer Karma back.
A visit to the Apple Store not only sold me on the iMac with the 20-inch screen for my 45-year-old eyes, but also on their version of a backup secretary, the Time Capsule/Time Machine. It works with both Macs and PCs, so there’s no reason why everyone can’t use one of these wonders. This little white box backs up everything on the hard drives of my iMac and my Powerbook G4 every hour, which is probably an hour more often than I was backing up my work. It also serves as a wireless router so I can work anywhere in my house, and even outside in the backyard if I choose to.
When I hear the quiet hum of the Time Capsule entering its backup mode, I feel a sense of relief that Big Brother is watching over me. It’s so quiet that one day I shut down my iMac right in the middle of a backup. When I realized what I had done, I grabbed the manual and saw that those Apple guys had thought of everything. Once I powered my iMac back up, the backup continued where it had left off. Nice! I can also tell the Time Machine to only back up certain folders or files on the hard drive. With 500GB of storage, I’m not too worried about running out of space.
Tech Guy still tells me to back up more often than every hour, and I will admit he is right. At least my corner of denial is smaller and I feel like I’ve got my computer Karma back…for now anyway.