Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Writer's Nightmare - Hard Drive Failure

It's been an eventful week here in the computer room. It started on Wednesday with what we thought was a virus. Several long, extensive scans later, nothing major showed up. And then my computer stopped working. It wouldn't start up and kept looping but wouldn't go any further than the motherboard information screen. Without going into boring details, we tried everything but to no avail, so a computer expert was called in. I found a company on the net called Geeks2U who promised to send someone the next day.

The verdict was a corrupted hard drive. Which meant a lot of stuff was lost. Including all of my emails. The tech guy got a fair amount back (and we extracted a lot more later with a different program) but basically I was faced with the nightmare that all writers dread - loss of files. I had been using a back-up program but it was set to automatic and if the computer wasn't on at that scheduled time, it didn't happen.

I'm lucky - I had seen several friends lose their computers and everything on them over the past couple of years, so I'd become a bit anal about losing my own stuff - that led to the back-up program and a new external hard drive. I really only lost a few things I'd been working on this week and was able to get new copies without too much trouble (from the editors). But what I may still have lost is all of my emails. I've seen people discussing the email issue online before. For some reason, most email programs are notoriously hard to back up because of where the actual In and Out Boxes and folders are kept (nowhere logical to me).

A couple of people have said I should be using Gmail, where everything is kept on the server for you. But I don't like the Gmail interface (and I hate Outlook too). I'm confessing to being a dinosaur in this area because I still use Eudora! It's simple, it shows me everything I need in the places where I put them, and I'm used to it. Now I need to decide if I'll keep using it. Sigh... With two books with editors waiting for my revisions and a dozen other pressing jobs to do, spending hours sorting out my computer now (or a new one) seems way too hard.

But it's my workhorse, my connection to the cyberworld, a cheap, convenient and fast way to do all the things I need to be able to do as a writer, including blogs and websites. And when all is said and done, at least I've been able to retrieve most of my files, unlike many people in the floods who will have lost the lot.
So have you had a similar disaster? What do you do about backing up? And is anyone else going to admit they still use Eudora? :)


Snail said...

A similar disaster? Why, yes. A few weeks ago, my main computer finally succumbed to something (probably fungus) and that was the end of that. A few files were backed up, but most of the contents (including photos) are lost. Now I back up important files every time I work on them. I don't know why it's taken me so long to learn to do that!

Graham said...

If I remember correctly, Eudora stores all the e-mails in a subdirectory, which you can just copy to make a backup of.

So either tell your backup program to include that directory, or use a program like Acronis True Image that creates an image of the hard disc instead of individual directories.

Sherryl said...

Snail, it usually does take a disaster to make it sink in. I'm still thinking about how to save things outside the house (just in case it ... floods or ... burns down).

Sherryl said...

Thanks, Graham. I just had to find the directory (which is not under the Eudora program files).
Backups are becoming more crucial these days, but should be easier, if not for human error!

Ruby Badcoe said...

It’s a relief that the crash didn’t damage your work. It really is nerve wracking when you’re on a sudden stop. Although it may be dull to backup and reorganize your files, it would surely save your time from finishing your books quickly without any hassles. You can also get an online backup service in case you forgot to bring a particular file with you.