I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it on the blog, but I play golf…horribly. Even so, I love the game and I’m fortunate to have two amazing playing partners who totally indulge the fact that I can’t hit a ball to save my life (even though I’ve taken lessons and have played for many years). At any rate, if you play golf with friends and family, you’ll know the term “mulligan.”
So…nearly a month ago, my computer’s hard drive experienced “catastrophic failure” (the tech’s words – did he know how melodramatic that sounds?) and could not be resurrected. The machine was in the shop for three weeks so I really just got it back very recently, with a brand spanking new hard drive and a freshly-loaded OS. I had to install new software and try to remember all my settings and bookmarks and all the fun stuff that made my computer mine. While that has been annoying (and is still a work in progress), what I’m really doing is breathing a sigh of relief.
Because I backed up my files. (Well, nearly all of them, anyway). If you’ve ever read interviews with famous writers and photographers – and the not-so-famous ones – you’ll find that a piece of advice they always dispense to newbie or wannabe creatives is to back up your work. They’re totally right about this. There is no mulligan when your computer just decides to catastrophically fail in the middle of something you were doing. I really had no warning when mine bit the dust, it just quietly shut itself down and never came back up. No raging against the dying of the light here; it was all very dignified…and surprising. I lost the work I was doing at the time, of course, and I’m kicking myself because it would have been so easy to just have a flash drive in the port and click on “Save” every now and then. I may have lost a few sentences rather than entire paragraphs.
It’s solid advice, and could save a ton of regret later on. Even if we’re not writers or photographers, how often are we backing up the work we do on the computer – the household budgets, the tax documents, the personal correspondence, the music or the movies or the e-books, the photos of our families and friends and pets? Are any of us backing up the files on our phones on a regular basis?
How do you back up your computer files – and how often do you do it? Do you use an external hard drive or other smaller storage devices such as flash drives or even CDs or DVDs? How about the cloud or a service such as Dropbox? Do you print your photos or other documents on paper? Do you store any of your backups off-site (away from your residence), as is often recommended?