Monday, 24 September 2012

Backups


            The other day I found in my files a Japanese cartoon I had started downloading ages ago and yesterday I finally got around to starting to watch it. I was enjoying the first episode when an idea struck me. Feeling a bit achy. I could run a bath and watch the second episode while having a soak.  I place the computer on the opposite side of the bathroom where I have a good view. Episode one finished just as the bath was ready, so I clicked on episode two and got in the bath. The program freezes up during the first minute of credits. I get out of the bath, restart the program, get back in the water. I then notice the theme song is in Japanese, whereas the first episode had been in English, including the theme. Get out the bath and try to pull up the language track settings to ensure the dialogue will be in English. The screen dies and everything goes blank. The computer has a battery that is way past its best, so I look out in the hall to where I had plugged the power supply in. Yep, I had forgot to switch on the wall socket, problem solved, back into the bathroom and fire up the computer again. Mains power light is on. Hit the start button, the other light comes on, stay on for a second and then goes out. This happens every time I try it, and all the other lights that represent  the harddrive etc stay dark. My laptop is dead.

            Earlier that day I had spent about an hour writing several new sections for the next book. I had not yet transferred a duplicate to my flash drive, intending to do it later on that night. Loads of other useful stuff I don’t think I have backed up to my external hard drive recently. What’s more, money is tight at the moment so computer repairs or even a replacement machine are an expense I can do without. It is possible that despite my care some water has gotten into the machine. Several times during that evening I try the machine again. Light goes on, light goes out.

            This morning I pack my machine into a rucksac and bring it into work. I’ll ask the computer tech here for advice on anything I can do with it or where to take it for repairs. I finish my morning coffee and decide to give it one last check. It works! Apparently it needed the night to dry out, needed shaking up in the rucksac, wanted some fresh air or just fancied a ride on the tube train. I don’t know.

            Why am I telling you this story? Well, I like to pass on information and lessons that might be useful, not just in the field of self-defence. Half a lifetime ago I had the task of trying to teach medical students about science. They had to design experiments, research an idea and then present their results. Every year I would hear the same thing- “I left my results on the bus!”; “Hassan has the results and he is not in, he was supposed to be!”; “My disc has a virus!” etc, etc.

            I always used to say “Where were you backups? Why didn’t you make duplicates?” and since I believe in learning from the mistakes of others, have a number of backup systems for data I consider important. However, this experience has reminded me I should be backing up more frequently, so today’s lesson is …

Always have a backup or two.

Backups are no good unless they are maintained.