Monday, January 17, 2005

Computer Karma and Backups

I am a firm believer in both. As someone who has had a near-Information Systems career (I never mastered the secret handshake, so I don’t get to go to the seminars where they chortle over "Petals over the Rose" and drink Jagermeister and Red Bull at the same time till their heads hurt), I consider myself "computer-savvy." Which means that I can talk about computers the way guys used to talk about cars. "I been thinkin’ about upgradin’ my P4 at 1.6 Gig, ya know, should I go with the Celeron 3.2 or stick with Intel? Hafta get another motherboard, but then I could go SATA and that would kick ass. . ."
As such, I have the privilege of often helping others, as well as helping myself. This can have serious, detrimental consequences with relationships; to forget a friend’s birthday is one thing, to lose all of their children’s baby photos is quite another. I do do a better job of protecting others’ data than my own; I’m getting better at backing up my own stuff, more often. While I’ve found that one can often mitigate the course of general entropy in the universe, which includes computer problems, disaster usually strikes at a point where and when it is least expected, or desired.
I managed to goof up my Dad’s computer last Tuesday, while trying to troubleshoot a problem. I did so, foolishly, before making a backup. I’d only managed to mangle the operating system, Dad’s data was still o.k., so I did a backup THEN. I put the files on my hard drive, and went to bed.
Next morning - Jury duty. I get up and push the "Power on" button on my computer, intending to copy some MP3 files onto my Pocket PC to pass the time in the jury room. No boot. No reboot. UNABLE TO BOOT FROM DRIVE. PLEASE INSERT BOOT DISK AND PRESS ENTER. I’m thinking that things aren’t so great in the computer world. How’m I going to explain this to dear old Dad?
Sigh. Off to the courthouse, where I at least have a couple album’s worth of songs, but then one earphone pulls apart when I abruptly remove it to hear some inane announcement. Monophonic just doesn’t cut it. But I digress. Later, back at the data center –
I was able to recover all but the last week of my computing (the important parts had, thankfully, been sent to clients upon completion, whew!). Restored Dad’s system from a year-old backup (thankfully he doesn’t tweak his system around the way that we "savvy" folk do), and his data from Tuesday’s. All's well that ends, well, well.
I’m now back to daily backups – it is the gift that keeps on giving.