I am happy to announce that I have bestowed a new title on myself today: The world’s biggest loser. Ok, to be fair, not an all-around totally clueless loser, but in the case of not having a file backup plan in place for my main computer, I win the prize!
Last night, after I tucked the kids into bed, I went to my iMac and prepared to start my evening’s work. I immediately noticed that my Outlook email was running really slow, but because I run Parallels software in my Mac environment (which basically allows me to run both Mac and Windows at the same time), I figured I would just restart and everything would be ok.
But it wasn’t.
The whole computer was running slow, so I did a manual shutdown by holding down the power key. Then I restarted. But instead of my main screen coming up quickly as it usually does, I got a pale grey background with a folder icon with a flashing question mark inside.
I knew this wasn’t good.
After a few more attempts at restarting, I shut the thing down and went to bed. If I am cranky, a good rest helps, so maybe my computer felt the same. It has been a couple of busy weeks, so maybe it just wanted the night off.
This morning, it was more of the same. A couple of times I was able to get to my hard drive, but it was exceptionally slow, and by the time I was able to access a folder to start the backup process, my whole system would freeze and the restart process would repeat.
So after spending an hour with tech support on the phone, I drove my ill iMac to the Apple store.
The “Genius” (their term for in-store technical wizard) behind the support desk poked around and said “It appears you have a bad hard drive.” Followed by “but you do have your files backed up, right?”
Herein lies the community service announcement.
No, I didn’t have my files backed up. I did a weekly backup to an external drive on my old PC, but when I got my shiny new iMac a couple of months ago, somehow I was blinded by a combination of slick marketing messages, which promoted the Mac environment as being much more stable than Windows, and good old fashioned stupidity. I thought “It is a Mac, it won’t crash! I’ll figure out a backup plan later. Now, I am much too busy.”
One of you aspiring entrepreneurs should start a virtual business where as soon as someone utters such a thought, a large, concentrated electrical shock strikes them in the forehead. Such thoughts should not be allowed to cross the minds of seasoned professionals such as myself, but alas they do.
Lesson for you: BACKUP YOUR FILES RIGHT NOW!
Not tomorrow or next week, but right now at this moment.
Some of my Twitter friends (@fildawg, @braveterry, @rickg and @SherylSisk, who among others have held my hand through my Mac breakdown) recommend the following resources:
If all this seems too much, hire the smartest person you know to figure it out for you.
You never expect your hard drive to fail. I know I never did, not on a brand new computer! But technology fails. And when you put food on the table by the intellectual property you produce, you better have a plan to keep it safe.
If you have a business providing technical support to others, you should create a service offering for backup assement, installation and maintenance that you will advertise to all of your customers. Use my stupidity as a lead-in to your marketing message if you need to:
What would you do if your hard drive crashed this minute?
Pamela Slim, the author of a blog I read and who really should know better given her smart technical friends, had this happen to her today and almost lost her mind.
If you don’t currently back up your files, I would be happy to assess the best service or product for doing so. I will help you set it up on your computer and will put a process in place to ensure it happens on a regular basis.
If interested, call me at 555-1212 or email me@don’tbealoserlikepam.com
-Smart Independent Technical Professional”
Bad marketing copy maybe, but you get the point, right? Some people don’t back up because it seems too difficult and time-consuming. If you know how to do it, help someone out of the goodness of your heart or to make an extra buck. It is worth it!
The final chapter
I was told by the Mac Geniuses that despite the early dire predictions, I will be able to retrieve my data. I purchased an external drive which they are configuring for automatic backups as we speak, and I will also use a couple of remote backup services on a regular basis. I am so thankful to get my data back that I will even hand-copy my files with a pencil on a legal notepad if need be. As Malcolm X said (referring to revolution, not computers of course) “by any means necessary.”
They say that those who know better do better. Now we both know better. Let’s do better.
Back that drive up!