Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Writers And Backup

Yep, here we go again with the one thing writers never do and always must do.

My computer fan burned out and I have another fan on order (a feat
that took 2 whole work days from writing -- because of course the fan
went on Memorial Day weekend).

My computer is a Dell Precision 350 -- only 4 years old but you can
only get refurbished parts for it from Dell -- it's off warranty and
barely supported at Dell -- but not supported at all at normal stores
like Best Buy and Frys Electronics.

It took two geek friends two days to get me this far -- really, in a
normal world I could just buy a fan, stick it in, and the computer
would work again. Dells aren't designed for that -- or maybe they are
now but weren't 4 years ago.

At any rate my "whole life" is backed up on an external harddrive that
is unplugged most of the time.

It is unlikely that any of the data on my computer's internal hard
drives (2 huge ones) is affected in any way because the software
caught the problem and refused to boot the machine normally. I don't
have an overheat or catastrophic thermal event (i.e. dead CPU to deal
with) -- I hope. If I'm wrong, then I've lost a couple months worth
of data since my last massive incremental backup.

I SHOULD have done the all-night job of another backup to the external
hard drive when I first heard the fan making an odd noise. I didn't
because I was working hard on a story (which is backed up on an
external floppy disk -- but in software that my husband's machine
doesn't have). I worked too late to have the time to start the backup
running then check all night to see if it crashed.

Meanwhile, though I'm using my husband's much smaller machine that
can't run all the software I normally use in my daily grind.

So although at this moment I don't think I have a data disaster on my
hands, I am crippled for lack of that hefty machine I work on.

But this lesson is worth learning and re-learning and somehow creative
people just have to be force-trained into the backup habit perhaps by
the age of 6 or the habit just won't "take."

Really, backup runs counter to everything in an artist's personality
-- you don't make COPIES, you make unique ORIGINAL stuff, one of a
kind. It gets "copied" only when you've finally got it right.

Well, this world is different. There are whole businesses (several of
them in my phone book) that advertise "data recovery" for just exactly
this reason!

The computer world isn't yet configured for human habitation.


-- Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. Husband-Hunting Criteria:

    1) Must have excellent Dad Potential.

    2) Must be tall and boyishly handsome.

    3) Must make my computer work and back-up my novels regularly.

    I think I used a crayon to add these to our marriage license.

  2. Anonymous8:30 PM EDT

    I must confess a certain likeness to Neanderthal here. I have yet back up my computer. Initial attempts didn't pan out, and I've never known why. But I do back up my book files. I burn them onto CD periodically, and onto multiple jump-drives as well. I've lost all my email files at least twice due to hard-drive failures, but at least the book stuff is safe. Of course, I've also piles of paper notes, scribbled down at, um, work, and *shhh* you didn't hear me say that. Anyway, none of those notes are in danger from hardware/software failure, but they're danged-all hard to sort through.

  3. okay, you scared me. So tonight I backed it up since my fan keeps running. Of course it could just be because it's so darn hot here but still...