Thursday, February 23, 2012

PSA: In which I am grateful I'm a freak about backing things up

As I mentioned earlier this week, my laptop died on the way to Boston.  Just dead.  Kaput.  Hard drive shot, apparently.  But it is under warranty, so I should be getting it back, good as newish*, some time today.

Which means I've got a fair amount of work ahead of me setting it back up.

Fortunately, I've been exceedingly anal about backing up non-replacable files.  Namely, anything to do with writing and worldbuilding.  I don't use any sort of automatic service for this.  It's just me, manually and actively backing things up on a regular basis.

This is a habit borne from necessity, from hard lessons.  I've had two other laptops die on me, but fortunately they both had lingering, sputtering deaths, and in both cases their replacements were in hand and loaded with their data before they shuffled off.  But those two were not the hard lessons.

Rather, the hard lesson was one of my own stupidity.  This is when I had my old desktop PC, which I had purchased in 1998.  By 2005, it was slow, outdated and a bit sputtery.  We called it Tortuga**, and when my wife was bringing in a new desktop***, she wanted it GONE.  The day came**** when she decided she would tolerate no further nostalgia for Tortuga on my part.  I needed to save all my data (burning it to CD, because this is 2005 we're talking about) and put the computer on the curb.  Which I did.

A few months later I was caught with a bit of a bug to dig up some old work, namely a novel I had started back in the 90s called "Convergence of Angels on the I-35".   Don't ask me what that title means, because I really couldn't tell you.  I never got far enough into it to figure that out.  This, by the way, was pretty well in the height of my "I'll just write and see where things take me" pantsing delusions.  I had no plan, other than writing in purplish prose about diners, miracles and broken people.  But mostly diners.  Hell, the thing was originally written on a yellow legal pad while seated at the counter of a greasy spoon diner, drinking obscene amounts of coffee.  I was deep in a Tom Robbins phase at the time.

I digress.  I looked for that file in my archive CDs.  Nowhere.  Checked older archives.  Nope.  Checked all over the place.  Not to be found.  "Convergence of Angels on the I-35" was lost to history, since I was terrible at backing things up.

(This is kind of a lie, as I do, in fact, still have the handwritten yellow legal pad.  It's actually in my hand right now.  I could, if I really wanted to, re-type the thing.  And given that its been 16 years since I wrote this, and I'd like to think I'm a much better writer now than I was then, said re-typing would probably be a significant improvement over whatever I had typed before.  Maybe it might be an interesting experiment.)


*- The CD/DVD burner had been glitchy for some time, and they're replacing that as well, so it's not that much of a tragedy.
**- Spanish for "turtle".
***- Which she named "Coneja", Spanish for "rabbit".  Our current computers are Cheetah, Dolphin and Coneja II, which is the machine that just died this week.
****- If I were to guess, it would have been September 18th, 2005.

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