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Tales of Procrastination: I’m Too Lazy to Back-Up My Data Files

Confederate Civil War reenactment camp

In 1863, Americans weren't worried about computers. They were too busy fighting for basic rights.

After having written so many times about the cost of procrastination, right here on this blog… you would think I’d have learned the crucial lesson by now:

Be Prepared For ANYTHING.

But I was caught off-guard when our hard drive (and our back-up storage drive!) crashed after a freak power surge tore through our older-than-dirt, and apparently faulty, surge protector. A few of my recent paintings, and nearly ALL of our personal photos (including Mia and Jacob’s entire life history in digital photos) were lost somewhere in the technical wasteland of irretrievable files.

Irretrievable by mere mortals, that is.

After having a panic-attack, lying awake all night, and refusing to speak to my husband for 24 hours (….I’d left HIM in charge of system back-up, after all), I finally owned up to the fact that it was my own fault for not ensuring my entire body of work was saved elsewhere.

Although many of my high-resolution scans of artwork had been uploaded to print-on-demand sites online, and places like Deviantart.com (where artists can sell prints AND re-download the original files)… I had become lackadaisical in keeping these sites current. A few pieces were missing ~ including a couple digital paintings (in which no tangible art exists to re-scan), a popular photomanipulation, and one painting that had already been sold (and couldn’t easily be scanned again).

Even worse was knowing I’d lost nearly ALL of our family pictures… baby photos, birthdays, trips to the park, those goofy shots I’d forgotten to share on Facebook.
As Joe remarked, “It’s like losing everything in a house fire.”

Except that it isn’t like that at all.

My family’s house DID burn down in a fire a short time after I’d moved out on my own. Everything that I’d left behind in the attic, half-intending to return “someday” to collect, was lost. Forever gone.
The entire second storey was gutted. You could stand in the rubble of our living room downstairs, looking up through the newly exposed hole in the roof, two floors above, and watch the clouds drifting lazily in the sky.
Fortunately nobody was hurt, although my grandfather was home at the time the fire started in the attic; one of our neighbors saw smoke rising from the roof, and rushed over to aide him in escaping.

My grandfather lost over 50 years’ worth of family memories.
My grandmother had passed away the year before, and memories were all that had remained of their lives together. He had held onto her clothes, books, letters, and countless photographs and slides kept in shoe-boxes and faded albums.

How does one recover from a loss like that?

People suffer disasters all the time…. floods, hurricanes, and house fires that destroy much more than bricks and furniture; people lose their lives in these tragedies, metaphorically, and sadly often literally.

Joe and I are extremely fortunate that we haven’t endured anything quite that devastating yet. We simply lost photographs… but we’re safe, and our family will move on.

On February 20th, my daughter’s 15-year-old cousin passed away from a massive stroke after being in the hospital for months awaiting a liver transplant. He’d already had one transplant as a child, and everyone knew he would be a familiar face in hospitals for the rest of his life.
But I, for one, assumed that his life would be a rough roller-coaster ride of surgeries, recoveries, relapses, with plateaus of remission in between… that he would continue on into adulthood, get married, have a family and a job.
He was looking forward to getting his driver’s license next May.

I truly believed that he wouldn’t be touched by the same hand of Fate that touches so many other families with sick children. He would be one of the lucky ones, just because I wished it so.

You see, bad things never happen in this little fantasy world I live in.

But the real world is full of bad things, and life-changing circumstances happen all the time, to every one of us.

In the 21st century, we are entirely dependent on these machines glowing brightly and humming in our faces…. made of metal and seemingly indestructible plastic, we forget how fragile they are. A few drops of water, or a surge of electricity… and you’re looking at the climax of “The Wizard of Oz” when the green-faced Wicked Witch of the West shrieks “I’m meell-tiingg! I’m mel-ting! What a world, what a world!” before evaporating in a puff of smoke.

Losing my digital files felt like a ice-cold bucket of water dumped over my unsuspecting head. For a couple of days, a disorienting fog settled upon my shoulders… disbelief and denial morphed into anger, depression, and then finally I accepted that I had screwed up, and now it was time to act. To repair the damage, if possible, and to ensure something like this NEVER happened again.

I contacted a highly-rated data recovery service for an estimate, and sent my hard drive to be evaluated.

The good news: my files can be recovered by their tech-gods.
The not-so-great news: mechanical failure is wildly expensive.

I compared prices with other recovery sites, but their quote seemed to be the industry standard (preying on the procrastination of folks like me, eh?) …
We knew it might be bad, but ultimately if our files could be saved, we’d need to pay.

The up-side to handing over enormous amounts of money to a company who can retrieve files you weren’t careful to back-up?
You learn to keep that flash drive handy, and a burn a few copies of important folders onto 25¢ CDs.

We’re also testing out a secure online storage site to upload important files, which has a yearly fee ~ a pittance, really ~ to prevent this costly mistake from ever happening again.

I’ve been kicking myself over and over again for this lack of judgement, and now that the ordeal is nearly over, I’m struggling to find a silver lining.
To lighten the mood, and also as an informal apology for blaming him… I purchased this Hallmark card for Joe:

Funny Hallmark card, One day you'll look back on this...

One day you'll look back on all this, and say....

Funny Hallmark card, Wow that sucked...

And 10 years from now, that is exactly what we will say! ;)

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