I’d suspected a problem for nearly a year. The computer was almost five years old. Applications opened and processed more slowly than they once had. Ever more dawdling and sluggish went the laptop despite my virus checking, system optimization, and plain old defragmenting and freeing up of hard disk space.
Thursday night I heard a buzzing noise from the front of the machine. Then the screen flashed the message “cannot find operating system.”
If that toxic combination of sound and that sight is not one that chills your soul and suspends your heartbeat, then you’re a stronger person than I am.
No amount of restarts or rebooting improved the situation. The machine buzzed. The screen remained blank. And that’s when I began to reflect upon my rather haphazard efforts to back up my files.
I’m just happy that I didn’t begin to sob at that point.
I passed the computer on to a friend who is more skilled with technology. He gave it the old college try. Sadly the drive refused to reveal or release my precious data.
The next step was a local computer store with even more expertise and experience. The technician took the drive and offered me some lukewarm assurances. A few hours later he called me to report disappointing results: what was locked inside the drive was not coming out without a fight.
The fight then progressed to the only remaining option. The store sent the drive to a company in a far off state. Apparently, said company is possessed of astounding tools and astonishing knowledge. They ought to be considering that their restoration and recovery fee is the same as the purchase price of new mid-range computer. Which I’ll be buying as well as paying their fee should they have some success.
What those technicians are doing as they try to coax data from the crypt of my hard drive is a mystery to me. I imagine them donning peaked hats, waving wands, chanting incantations, and swaying to unearthly melodies audible only to them. I give not a damn. Whatever works. I want my writing back.
While smarter people than me practice technological legerdemain in Colorado, I’ve been assessing the status of my files. It’s appalling how slapdash I’ve been. I have two portable backup drives. I have Dropbox. I have e-mail with attachments. I have a few paper copies. Nothing is as well organized or systematized as it could have been.
I believe that between the portable hard drives, which I backed up to a few months ago, the email attachments, and those stray paper copies laying around, that I may be able to piece together most of my writing. Most, but not all. So far, one story that I’d just finished in December and which I thought was particularly well done is nowhere to be found.
Perhaps the Colorado conjurors will have mostly success. I certainly hope so. If they can return to me at least some of my files, I’ll be grateful (and poorer). If they have limited success or none at all, I’ll just have to suck it up and accept that a few of my stories are simply gone.
What have I learned from this calamity? Back up your files. Back up your files. Back up your files.
The spring of 2016 will be a long slog for me. I will be finding all my files in all their formats and versions in all their locations. I will be organizing those files and backing them up to the Cloud. I may also have to rewrite some things from scratch.
At least I won’t be idle.