The Importance of Being Backed Up

After making whirring sounds for a few weeks, my Dell laptop’s hard disk breathed its last. To be precise, I simply couldn’t start Windows. I kept being asked if I wanted to start in various forms of Safe Mode. However, no matter what I selected, a blue screen would flash on and off, and I’d be taken back to the first screen again.

After a few attempts by IT support to revive my Dell laptop’s hard disk, I was told that it was kaput. Fortunately, since this isn’t the first or second time they’ve had to save me, they already had an ‘image’ of my laptop and so they restored all the software that was installed in it, which did save a lot of time.
Upon learning I had lost 3 years’ worth of files – all the time I’ve spent at this current job – I felt distraught yet detached, almost relieved that my mass of files was gone and I could start anew. However all my recent work was gone too – my vetted documents due for approval, my image collections, my latest software configurations. Thankfully I recalled that I had backed up my files a few months ago using a colleague’s portable hard disk, and managed to restore most files to my computer. So the only thing I don’t have are the files and emails from about 2-3 months ago.
The thing is, when my tech manager called Dell last Friday to report the problem, they got him to run the Diagnostics tool which confirmed it was a hard disk problem. They added it could’ve been the user that caused the hard disk to fail (i.e. me)! But the last replacement hard disk was installed just a few months ago – it wasn’t several years old. I’ve never dropped it. I did use it a lot – all through office hours and at home, sometimes until I went to bed. Sometimes when I think it’s on standby and I put it back in my bag, I come back later to discover that the fan is churning away furiously and I have to cool everything down and shut it down by force. Heat is probably the main thing it’s been subject to. And of course, I spend a lot of time using it every day, because so much of my work involves the Internet, design, email, research. It’s a wonder I haven’t broken down myself, ha.
Also, I thought that if I was a cruel owner (a theory I was willing to consider), then all my other computers at home should be in trouble too. They’ve been around longer than this laptop. However none of them are having problems. The oldest, my PowerMac G5, which has more processors and probably gets even hotter on days when I forget to turn it off, is still running since the day I bought it, in 2004. The only issue was when it ran out of hard disk space, at which point I simply bought a 1 Terabyte external hard drive.
With my laptop out of commission over the weekend, I had to use my Mac to do all my work. It actually felt pretty good. I was so sorely tempted to switch to a Mac notebook – but for work? I’d need Boot Camp or Parallels to use PC-only software. But imagine the street cred I would get…
OK, enough fantasising, back to configuring and looking for lost files. (Man, how I wish I had that Mac OS10.5’s new Time Machine feature.)
I suppose I should just get real and buy my own backup system for work stuff.


  1. Guardian Angel

    I realise alot of civil servants don’t seem to like to back up thier stuff on the laptop. Then when it goes kaput, tears start to flow. I always go around telling people. “It is cheap to get a portable hdd now. Go get it and start to do a backup. Windows is not as reliable as you guys thing.” So much so I sound ike a grandmother.
    Now is a good time to start new and fresh I guess.

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