Oh, oh, oh. We…

Oh, oh, oh. We shouldn't be so attached to data. I just got my computer back from AppleCare, and yes, they were exceedingly fast, and yes, they even gave me a new power cord to replace my sucky one, and the computer looks all bright and spiffy, but it is a blank slate -- it has none of my data. And I just want to cry. Okay, I am crying. I can't help it.

I know this isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, and I have a partial save of the critical info from two months ago -- not a complete back-up, and now I get to find out just how much I've lost, which I think is actually quite a lot. Not any of my fiction, I think, but I'll have to gather it in again from hither and yon -- that'll be today's first task. But I don't have the edits to the Blowfish anthology, so I'll have to ask the authors to resend their manuscripts -- and sheesh, I don't even have my tracking sheet. I don't know if I have their names anywhere. I don't know if I can do this. Oh, lord. I don't know why I don't have a back-up of that folder. Or any of the TOR manuscripts I was reading. Or...I don't even know what else.

That may be the worst -- that I don't know what's missing yet. It's like waking up and suddenly discovering massive gaps in your memory, as if you've lost months or years when you were sleeping. And you can go to your friends and ask you to tell them what happened, and you'll get back bits and pieces, but it isn't the same.

Today is going to suck.

Dar Williams is playing, and right now she's singing, "Tomorrow you'll find better days." A little hard to believe at the moment.

Go. Go back up your computer. Set up a schedule to do it regularly. Do it before you do anything else today.

14 thoughts on “Oh, oh, oh. We…”

  1. My Christmas card list is gone. Any old letters (mostly from David, so I think he has copies, but also a few from Kevin). All my photos — anything I didn’t post to this website. I had all these photos of Kevin…

    See, the last backup I did was when my computer started to crash, and we just managed to drag off the critical stuff before we managed to force a reboot. I don’t know why I didn’t do a full back-up afterwards. I’m an idiot, apparently.

  2. Good advice…can’t be repeated too often. Everyone knows, but if everyone’s anything like me, they mean to do it and just don’t.

    I lost some stuff to a stolen laptop last summer. I kind of like having a clean slate with the new one (yay insurance!)…there’s so much open space on this thing!

    But there was one story on the old one I’ll never get back. Sadness.

  3. Losing data sucks. :^(

    Much sympathy. Backups, yes; automated backups, even better. Harder with a laptop, but maybe still doable…

  4. That’s awful. 🙁 Very sorry to hear it. I don’t know if I have any of the stuff you’ve lost, but if I do, just lemme know.

    Your mention of your website reminds me to mention that you should also back up your website. Pair keeps backups, but only one backup, and only for 24 hours (at which point they overwrite the previous backup), and only in case of catastrophic server failure; if you ever delete a file and then realize you needed it, or if something goes wrong with their backup system, you’re out of luck. So keep a local copy of everything from your site, and get your web people to keep a local copy of everything from the SLF site. (I back up your journal database and the SH site regularly, so you don’t need to worry about those.)

    I use Retrospect to do backups of my disk, but I can’t exactly recommend that software; the backup process is so slow that it makes me reluctant to do backups, which goes against the whole point. I probably need to start scheduling regular ones even though I’m using a laptop.

    If you want a simple and friendly and free backup system for OS X, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Carbon Copy Cloner, which makes an exact copy of your entire disk. (Be sure to download the right version of CCC to go with whatever version of OS X you have.) (Also, though the software is free, there’s a PayPal button on the page in case you want to make a donation to the author.) On the one hand, that means it copies a lot of stuff you may not need or want to copy (system software stuff in particular); on the other hand, OS X stores a few things in kinda weird places, so it can be nice to know you have the whole disk backed up. (And in case of catastrophic failure, you can just do a complete restore, and not have to worry about reinstalling system software or applications or anything like that.) Ideally, one would have two external disks and would alternate, using CCC to clone to disk A one week and to disk B the next week, so that if you deleted a file and then did a backup, you’d still be able to restore the file from the previous backup. But to do that you’d need two external hard drives the same size as your internal one, which you can probably afford (hard drives are pretty cheap these days) but might feel like a luxury.

    One other very unfortunate thing: I think the iTunes Music Store won’t let you re-download songs you’ve already purchased. 🙁

    Anyway, I agree with Josh: data loss sucks.

    Am backing up my home directory as I type this. Was going to wait ’til next version of Retrospect comes out in a couple weeks, but you’re right, there’s really no excuse for not doing at least the important files right now.

  5. Hi Mary Anne:

    Just read your comment re: the computer crash. Empathy coming your way — I lost my laptop last year…all that writing, gone! I was sure that I’d lost everything I’d ever done that was worth anything.

    But, it wasn’t as bad as all that, and I was able to find most of it somewhere. Best of luck.

    PS – I’m one of the Blowfish authors (Muff Diver) so let me know if you need anything from me. s.

  6. Thanks for the sympathy, Shanna, and yes, I do need stuff from you. Let me think — what do I need? I need you to send me:

    mailing address:
    30 word bio:

    and a plain text copy of your story — the same format you initially sent it in. (I know I had you guys send attached files the second time round, but those turned out to be a lot harder to convert, surprisingly.) Please send them all to m@mamohanraj.com.

    Sigh. God, and I was so close to finishing the line edits.

  7. Also lost: all my old programs, including copies of FrameMaker, QuarkExpress, etc. Not that I used them often, especially they were for system 9, but some of them were pretty expensive, so it seemed worth hanging on to them.

    Lost the new programs too, of course, but since I bought them recently, I still have the disks. I can reinstall Word, once I get it back from David (he’s overnighting it to me).

    Kevin managed to recover much of my music from my iPod, after some finagling, but a bunch didn’t transfer over, and we’re not sure why. I assume some sort of copy protection thing, because I think it’s all stuff I bought from the Apple Music Store. I can still listen to it on the iPod, which I guess is something. I only completely lost the 4-5 cd’s I’ve bought online since I last sync’ed up the computer and iPod. Not too bad — at least I don’t have to spend many hours ripping all my CD’s again.

  8. Ugh! I’m so sorry to hear it, I absolutely hate data loss. It’s at the top of my list of things I try to avoid; like car accidents and those 3am phone calls about Something Bad happening.

    All that ephemeral stuff being dispersed is such a strange and troubling loss. There’s some hope that you can at least recover the music that’s on your iPod, as there are utilities to get at AAC files.

  9. Stephanie Burgis

    I’m so sorry to hear about the data loss–my old computer was accidentally wiped last summer, and I lost every story/novel I’d written from age 13 to 24 (only the last two years’ worth was backed up). It felt like having half my insides scooped out. It took a long time to start edging towards positive thinking, and “Starting fresh,” etc., etc. In the meantime the experience just sucks.

    I’m sending lots of empathy your way!

  10. My condolences! My laptop was stolen last year, and the last real backup I had done was three years before that, when I transfered data from the previous computer to the laptop. I had made backup copies of individual files in case of file corruption, but of course they were all on the laptop…

    anyway, I now have an external firewire drive for backups, and I just tried Carbon Copy Cloner, which I’d heard of but hadn’t tried before reading Jed’s message above. It worked very well, and it will be my regular backup-of-everything method from now on.

    I bought a drive with a bit more than twice the capacity as my laptop and partitioned the drive in to two sections. I alternate the sections each time I do a backup so I always have the two most recent backups. My laptop was stolen from my house, so I also bought a security cable and use it all the time, even at home. And I keep the firewire drive semi-hidden to reduce the chances it could get stolen too…

  11. Great idea re partitioning the drive, Heather! But 🙁 about loss of laptop. Ick.

    I should note that it’s also a good idea to keep backups in two entirely different physical locations, in case of (heaven forfend) fire or flood or earthquake or other physical destruction.

    The fact that your computer’s a laptop reduces that problem a little, in that there’s a chance that if something disastrous goes wrong with the location of the backup, the computer won’t be there at the time. But it’s still not a bad idea to keep a separate backup at work, or even to every so often burn all your most important documents onto a CD and mail the CD to a friend who’ll keep it for you. Or put it into a safe-deposit box if you have one.

  12. You may be able to recover the CD’s – check with the Apple itunes store support, I would imagine they might be able to help – I think in theory your purchase covers the use of the music on multiple machines, ask them if you can redownload the same CD’s onto your new harddrive (would be interesting if the two parts of Apple can talk to each other)

    Anyway, I’m really sorry to hear about the crash.. gotta go copy my disks…

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