Friday, July 06, 2012

They Shoot Computers, Don't They?

Those who've been on Facebook lately know that my laptop crashed again. This time it was not a hardware malfunction but operator. I thought it’d finished with an update and turned it off. Wrong! So the [insert nonsensically  I.T. wording here] became corrupted and wouldn't play well with others. Now it's being fixed once again, I can only hope between me and the hardware that it will keep working for another year or more as funds are plenty tight at the Swafford household.

In the meanwhile, I'm having fun writing on my desktop, using XP Windows and fussing about how sloooow the screens are on it. Geez! I'm so spoiled. And I'm doing my best to not think about all the emails I'd saved on the laptop for various reasons and will never see again.

If you're wondering, yes, I'd happened to back up my WIP on a flash-drive moments before it crashed. Though I will mention, I had written a couple pages after the back up and had been too tired to save it again. Drats!

What have I learned from two crashes in two years?

1. If you buy an external hard-drive to automatically back up your info, be careful and don’t let it fall to the floor. They don’t run well after that. What a wimp!

2. You can back up on flash-drives, but you have to do it often. I seriously thought about writing/saving all my WIPs straight to flash-drives and never saving them on the hard-drives of the laptop, but news people! Flash-drives can crash too. Do you just pull out your flash-drive without clicking on the icon in the icon tray? You have to tell your computer you’re about to pull it out or it can scramble the information on the drive. Oh, yeah.

And they're easy to break. Hello! I've broken one. Yes. I know. I have issues. I'm also the one who broke my desk a few months ago. A hundred year-old desk and I broke the leg. Don’t ask. I'm still traumatized by it. Desk and leg and owner are recovering.

3. If you have an email you want to save. PRINT IT OUT. From January through June, I saved all my emails to do with my expenses as I was concentrating on meeting deadlines, and I planned to print them out eventually and record them when I had time. Well guess who is going to have to remember six months of expenses and go on all kinds of accounts to print off info to provide the IRS for my taxes?  Oh, I'm so excited.

I also plan to switch most if not all of my email info over to my Gmail account. If anything happens to my computer again (heavens forbid) I'll surely have most if not all my emails as they won't be saved on my hard-drive but on Google's. Let's hope nothing happens to them.

4. There are Clouds you can save information on. Some charge for it and others don't.  I will be checking this out.

5. No matter how well planned and protected you are crap happens. So roll with the punches and think of it as housecleaning.

You know thieves, tornadoes and house fires are other crashes you have to prepare for. What do you do to prepare for the worst?


M.V.Freeman said...

I have had this happen and my heart just totally squeezed.

There is no fool proof way of protection, but I also have a gmail that I keep many of my emails (but I print them out and put them in folder--especially confirmations and receipts for writing).

I also have thumb drives. But, I think printing out is a good thing. I need to consider that. Because in the end--when technology fails--the hard copy can be the only thing you have left.

This is necessary to talk about and always makes me feel a bit anxious...

Thanks for an excellent reminder!

Callie James said...

Good post, Carla. Sorry this happened to you! How awful!

Currently I only back up on thumb drives and I take super good care of my laptop, but you're right in that you can never be too prepared.

Hope it all turns out!

Louisa Cornell said...

Oh Carla, I feel your pain. When I wrote my first novel I was a complete computer idiot (as opposed to now when I am simply computer challenged!) I wrote my first novel on my first computer and, you guessed it, didn't back up anything! Never even thought about it. CLUELESS! And of course when that computer went down like the Hindenburg I was devastated. FORTUNATELY, Tammy Lynn's husband Neil rescued my files from the wreckage that was my computer and backed them up on discs for me. He will forever be my hero for that!

My brothers yelled at me for WEEKS in that typical male "How could you be so dumb?" way men have. BUT a friend told me all of the ways I could back stuff up and my dear nephew patiently explained it all.

Now, I have my novels backed up on discs, on flash drives AND on an external hard drive. OCD? Me? Nah! I also print my manuscripts out fairly regularly, just in case. One set of discs and flash drives and the external hard drive go to work with me every day.

I print most of my historical research out in notebooks just in case. And I am trying to keep a hard copy of all of my bookmarks as well.

Keeping your list of suggestions! You can never have too many backups!

Lexi said...

Oh, Carla, this makes my heart hurt for you! I send a copy of my WIP to my office email and to my gmail. Hope you get things squared away and soon! No one needs this kind of stress!

Suzanne Johnson said...

Ouch, Carla--this is painful! I email copies of my document to myself at my gmail account--usually after I've added more than a few new pages. That way it's always on the Google server. When I get to a milestone (end of first draft, end of first revision, etc.) I go old-school and burn the file onto a CD. Finally, I bought an external backup hard-drive that my whole computer gets backed up to automatically once a week. So far, so good.

Carla Swafford said...

You're so right, Mary. I keep trying to find a way and boom! it knocks me down when it doesn't work.

And let's talk about how long it takes to upload all the software once the computer is clean and really to work again. Geez! Hours upon hours, no matter how fast your internet.

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks, Callie. I hope all continues good for you.

Carla Swafford said...

You know, Louisa, that sounds like the best way to go along with mailing the WIP to gmail as Lexi and Suzanne does.

One thing I forgot to mention was that I do copy the finished book to a YAHOO site Christy and I have. That has helped somewhat.

Carla Swafford said...

Lexi, stuff like emails (hotel confirmation at RWA), I copy to work a lot of times. Thank goodness! Hugs.

Carla Swafford said...

Suzanne, sounds like you have it covered too. Be sure you don't knock off that hard drive from your desk. :-)

Chris Bailey said...

Big ouchie! I'm so sorry you're going through this. I have a thumb drive and I think my stuff is on a cloud. Because periodically, my phone updates with stuff I've put on my laptop calendar. But I don't know anything about how it works, other than that I downloaded an app and said yes. Probably I'm submitting all my personal info to some scam operation in Kazakhstan. My desktop died, and one day I'm going to take it somewhere to copy all the stuff on it that I didn't copy to my laptop a year ago.

Carla Swafford said...

Chris, it's amazing the things that you believe you need on a computer and really don't. :-)

Cari Hislop said...

You have my sincere sympathy! In the past I've had two major computer crashes. This is what I learned:

If you have to vacuum (and you're feeling grumpy) don't put the dinosaur-laptop with two years work on it (work which hasn't been saved) on the roller-chair without rollers and then forget you put the laptop on the chair...and yank the chair away from the desk to vacuum. That was a bad bad day! The laptop crashed onto the floor (I nearly caught it) and it died. A whole book. It turned out to be one of those awful blessings though because the rewritten version was SO much better.

Did I learn my lesson? No! Several months later my husband decided to help me by installing a wireless internet connection to my ancient Frankenstein computer. It had a temperamental floppy disc drive (this was about ten years ago) so I'd only saved one of my stories...
And on adding this wireless-thing I didn't even want (my husband was under the desk) there was this flash of weird light and the computer went dead. A very bad day!

Now: if my computer blows up everything is automatically saved to a separate storage thingy on my desk and everything is also saved to somewhere in the clouds...though heaven forbid my thingy were to blow up and my husband die because I've no idea where the cloud is...
I should probably have that written down somewhere!