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Let me tell you a story.

On a dark and stormy night back in my sophomore year of college, a horrible thing happened.

My hard drive crashed.

It was epic. It was the kind of crash where your computer makes weird noises, and instead of a nice, clean, apple logo, I got a frowning folder telling me everything was gone. And I meanĀ everything. Photos, documents, manuscripts, class assignments (luckily nothing I was currently working on), a few applications… The loss of the photos (even though my dad had some of them, and facebook had the best ones) and my novel manuscripts was the most devastating. The crying-in-the-bathroom-alone kind of devastating (it was an on-campus apartment, so I didn’t have my own room). I was pathetic. AND it was during NaNoWriMo, so I was doubly upset that I’d lost that particular manuscript. I wasn’t anywhere near finishing, but I liked the story enough to want to pick it up later. There was a really great scene about pancakes… Ok, maybe it wasn’t that great, but it was NaNoWriMo, and it seemed like a great idea at the time.

“Why is this so devastating if she backs things up like a sensible person?” you might be asking right about now.

Yeah, I, uh, didn’t.

I was in a more naive phase of being an Apple user where I thought this sort of thing could never happen. It’s Apple after all, they don’t get viruses, blah blah blah. Don’t worry, I’m still in love with Apple products, despite the expense, but that’s a discussion for another day. The point is, I was an idiot, and didn’t have anything backed up. I might have had a few things in dropbox by that point, but not my manuscripts, and not my photos. To me, this was the end of the world.

I have since obtained an external backup hard drive that I use with Apple’s Time Machine, backed up everything important in Dropbox, and even put all my thesis stuff (and a few other things) on another portable hard drive. Oh, and I also backed up my thesis stuff to the department’s servers. I have a multitude of redundancies when it comes to backing up my data.

Which is why last night’s computer troubles were not nearly so terrifying as my hard drive crashing all those years ago. This time, I was prepared. Though, I hadn’t ever needed to reformat or restore my system before, so it was terrifying in that sense. But at least this time I knew everything important was safe. Theoretically. I still don’t totally trust technology. It may have taken a million hours, but I’m right back where I left off yesterday before I had to perform a brain reboot operation on my computer.

Point of the story: back up your stuff. Hopefully this is not a message most people need to hear anymore, as there are enough horror stories out there to scare people into being redundant. But just in case, here’s my story, and my advice is to BACK UP YOUR SHIT. Often, and in several different places.

Don’t be stupid-sophomore-me. It’s not worth it.

Now, back to the microscope!

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