Monday, October 1, 2012

Making Mistakes, Changing Habits

Recently when I wrote a post (A Falling Leaf) about take a few 037-computer-crashmoments to relax and disconnect from technology, I never realized just how hard it can be to completely disconnect.

I don’t have an iPad, Blackberry or such. I have a simple cell phone and a laptop I use. So in some terms, I am a long way from being a tech savvy or dependable person.
There are days when I’m only on the internet for short periods - just to post the next day’s blog or quickly scan emails and a few blogs. Because of this I miss being on the net more and visiting with my favorite blogs, but time is limited and we do what we have to do.

But when my laptop crashed recently, I felt completely helpless. Just knowing I couldn’t click on a link and check my email when I had a second to myself felt so odd and a little bit lost.

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who relies that much on the computer, but I had to rethink that. I realized I have come to rely on my computer for so many things. My calendar is there. It’s how I convert audio CDs to my MP3 so I can listen to books no matter what I’m doing. It’s the way I stay connected to the world. It’s the way I play bills. It’s how I communicate with friends in other parts of the country.

And then I had to face the problem of the crash itself. Would I be able to save anything that was on my computer or would it all be gone in a blink of an eye? Thankfully the tech at our local Staples was able to salvage a good bit of the information I had on it such as photographs and some documents. 

The only programs that were saved, however, were the ones that came on the computer. And they were restored to their original setting with no updates. We’ve had the laptop for about three years.

Over the past couple of years of blogging, I’ve read a number of posts where computers have crashed and bloggers stressed the importance of backing everything up - saving a copy. I had saved copies of my photographs on flash drives. I had even purchased an external hard drive a two weeks before my crash just so I would have somewhere safe to store all my photos and important documents - not that I had gotten around to doing it before the crash though.

What I hadn’t saved or even thought about saving were programs that I had added to my computer from the internet, as well as web addresses that I had bookmarked and some helpful widgets I had on my desktop. I had to search for programs that I use such as Windows Live Writer and reinstall it. But, I had to also make sure all of my drivers and files were updated so that they would accept and make the programs I was reinstalling work. Some are still not working as they were before the crash. I also found that the widgets are no longer available for download. They still work if you have them installed, you just can’t install them anymore.

Another program that I had on the computer that I really enjoy is Calibre. It lets you list all of your eBooks in one location and you can even format PDF files to view on your Kindle. Another feature I especially like is that you can list every book you have making it a great way to quickly search your library to see if you have a certain book or not. I had to reinstall this program too. The really bad thing is that now instead of continuing to add my books to the list, I have to start over and re-enter the almost 600 books I already had listed when the computer crashed.

I still don’t have all the programs back on my computer and probably never will. I don’t know where I found some of the programs or even how they would be listed to search for them. In addition, there are so many web addresses that I can no longer visit because I didn’t write them down anywhere and here again, I don’t remember the correct name of the sites. 

I share all of this with you as a way of stressing not only backup your photographs and important documents, but also be sure to write down web addresses you have bookmarked. Be sure you back up any new programs you download from the net or any added features you use. So when you save items from your computer, make sure to save EVERYTHING that you use and do it often.

A quick side note - as we begin October today it’s time once again for NaBloWriMo (National Blog Writing Month) where bloggers sign up to blog every single day of the month throughout October. This will be the third year that I have participated thanks to the wonderful help I receive from the awesome authors visiting during this month. If you haven’t signed up yet, be sure to do so. It’s lots of fun. (This was one of the lost website addresses that I thankfully had linked in my sidebar.)

Well, I’ve rambled on for far too long. I just want to end by saying THANK YOU to everyone for stopping by. Ya’ll are the best and I’m honored to be among you. Have a wonderful day.


  1. Such good points, Mason! I'll admit that I don't have a written list of the websites that I've bookmarked. Good idea to make that!

    So glad that Staples was able to recover much of what you had on the computer. You're right--we depend on these contraptions much more than we realize!

  2. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I, too, learned the hard way about backing up a few years back when an old computer crashed. Thankfully, I had the important things backed up - photos, documents - as your experience shows, it's more than that that gets lost. I've since become paranoid about backing up. One thing that has really provided peace of mind for me is using a remote online back up. It backs up everything in real time, all day long. I use Carbonite, but there are a number of services like it out there.

    For the bookmarks: you can back them up, so you don't have to keep a written list. Use the "export" feature to do so - but don't forget to back up the exported file.

  3. Mason - I'm sorry you had to learn all of this the hard way. So frustrating and upsetting for you! Thanks for being willing to share with the rest of us so that someone else doesn't have to go through the same things. Folks, trust me, Mason's right. Back it all up!

  4. Hi, Mason. So sorry to hear that your computer crashed. Thank you for the tips and reminders about backing things up and writing down links.

  5. I am so sorry you lost all of those valuable programs. I have discovered that "3" is the "magic number" for laptops and computers taking a nose dive. I vow to never keep one again for more than 3 years. I have had crashes too with no back up. Now I have some things backed up but I am a far way from having everything backed up

  6. Oh, Mason, I'd never have thought of writing down all these things you mention. I thought it was enough to back my computer up regularly. Recently I thought I'd lost all my financial data because I accidentally deleted it. But I had backed it up, so whew, it was not lost.

  7. Windows creates a folder called Favorites to store all your bookmark information. On my PC it's in C:/Documents and Settings/[my user name]/Favorites.

    Include this folder in your regular backups and you won't have to write them down.

  8. I have an external drive with my writing, my music and my photos on it. I have to remember to back up more often though. And great tips about the other stuff! I wouldn't have thought of it! :)


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