I had no feelings of impending doom that afternoon to clue me in that my life was about to be derailed by a disaster. I was working on a magazine feature story, due the next day, and had consulted a website for more information on the topic. Suddenly I became aware that the “little rolling ball” on the screen of my MacBook had been rolling long enough to make it all the way to California, if it had been going in a straight line and not just staying in one place. I tried to shut down Firefox, but my computer screen froze. I then had to manually shut down. When I tried to boot back up, I felt fear strong enough to be sick to my stomach. Yes, you’ve got it—the Flashing Question Mark of Death.
A Mac geek that I know and trust once told me, “There are only two kinds of computer hard drives in this world—the ones that have failed, and the ones that are GOING to fail.”
Clearly, my hard drive now fell into the former category.
I thought I’d backed up all my data. Every evening at 6 p.m., MobileMe performed a scheduled backup onto my iDisk. But had I ever tested those backups? No. Had they worked? No, they hadn’t.
Ironically, my daughter’s MacBook had died just a few days before that, and she’d lost irreplaceable photos. I’d felt so sorry for her. Now I was in the same boat.
I thought of my thousands of photos, three years of Word Documents, and gazillions of emails, and briefly considered drowning myself in the bathtub. But then, moaning and clutching my MacBook to my chest, I ran like a wild woman out the door and jumped in the car, feeling as if I were rushing my baby to the emergency room.
Once I got to the computer store, I got both good news and bad news from the young whippersnapper behind the counter. The good news was that my laptop’s hard drive was still covered under AppleCare’s three-year free replacement warranty, since I’d bought it in August 2007, so replacement of my hard drive would be free. The bad news was that the data on my hard drive might not be salvageable.
All the rest of the day, I kept thinking of more things that I’d lost. The photos from the ceremony honoring my deceased father. (Oh, no!) The emails from an editor wanting to see the middle-grade novel I’d queried her about. (Oh, no, no!) The middle-grade novel itself. (Oh, boy, did I ever need a drink.)
The first thing I thought about when I woke the next morning was all the data that I’d lost. But I kept hoping that the geeks at the computer store would be able to restore it to me.
It turned out, however, that they couldn’t. Neither could Drive Savers, a heavy-duty data recovery firm. I felt bereaved. It was such a huge loss that I almost felt as if a human friend had died, not just my hard drive.
So now I’m starting from scratch. I’m using two Western Digital My Passport 320 GB external hard drives to back up my photos and novels from now on, and also trying out online backup from Backblaze.
If you have data that you care about and would be devastated to lose, think about this Cautionary Tale and back up your stuff!