Sunday, January 3, 2010

Data Backup Disaster - Oh My!

Okay, so I'd been performing genealogy related research for more than 8 years when disaster struck. And I do mean disaster struck!

I'd backed up my data a "couple of times". I'd burned everything to CD's, and stored them away. But the last time I'd done that had been well over three years before, and nothing from the past three years was backed up. [I know, whip me with a wet noodle! How dumb can you be, right?]

I got up one morning in 2007 and turned on the old computer. Or rather, I tried to turn on the old computer. Nothing happened. A brief blip across the screen, and nothing else.

So, I turned it off and tried yet again!

Blip. And nothing.

As you can imagine, I went into panic mode!

Not only was my more than 10 years of personal research on that hard drive, but well over 100 clients information was there as well! What was I going to do???

I phoned my dh [who is a long haul truck driver], and began sobbing. Literally. "Calm down! Tell me again who died?" he said.

I was now hicupping with the sobs. Tears were pouring down my face. I couldn't speak coherently!

"Call your sister and see if she knows someone in computers," he encouraged.

Yes! Of course!!!

"And for heaven's sake, dear, you knew better than not to keep your files backed up! What was wrong with you?"

Just what I needed at a moment like this! Recriminations while my whole world went up in smoke! I wanted to scream! Rant! Rave!

Instead, I called my sister. Need I tell you her response to my hysterics?

"Cyndi, whose house burned down????"

When I finally spoke coherently enough for her to understand what the problem was, she gave me the phone number of a man who ran a small computer repair business from his home. He was touted as being the best. But his work log was generally backed up and it might take a while!

I hung up. Went to the bathroom and washed away the tears. Went into the kitchen and made a pot of soothing chamomile tea. I had to calm down if I wanted to sound any where near professional when I called this man!

So, I calmed myself down. Then called. I got his answering machine, and left a message.

About 45 minutes later this very quiet gentleman called me. "I can be by and pick up your computer tomorrow if you like," he stated.

Inside I was screaming, "Tomorrow? But this is an emergency!" Instead I answered, "That will be fine."

The next day he arrived at my home and attempted to boot up the laptop. Nothing but a "blip" across the screen again.

"Well, I hate to tell you this, but your hard drive is fried. There's not alot that can be done. It will cost more than the laptop is worth to try to recover the data on it. Is there anything really valuable that you need off of it?"

I thought I would fall over dead I was so mortified! Just my life's work was hiding in that burnt up hard drive! Not only my ancestry, but the ancestry of the last couple of hundred clients I had!!!

"Look," I said as calmly as I possibly could. "Can this be done or not?"

"Well, I can probably do it," he said. "But I'm going to have to borrow some things from a friend of mine who is still in the CIA," he said, insuating he had been in that organization. "It's the only company I know of with that kind of technology. And it's going to take a few weeks to get it out. If I can even get it all out."

"Look, I don't care how much it costs," I cried. "I've got to get this information out!" And I went on to explain just what was hiding in that burnt up hard drive, and the amount of work I'd put into it, and ... and... and the tears started all over again.

And so, he agreed to take my computer and do his very best to pull the data from the hard drive.

You'd have thought I was an expectant father with the amount of phone calls I made to that man! Every day I called to check on the progress of the data recovery.

Every day he told he was doing his best.

"Look," he said, "your hard drive is literally burnt up. Just as if it had been in a bad house fire! It's melted. This is going to take some time!"

Three weeks later, I was still frazzled. And I was still crying every single day over the loss. My mother even told me, "Why you'd think you lost your favorite child!"

And then one day it happened. The phone rang, and it was the computer guy on the other end.

"I did it!" he cried. "I really didn't know if we could do it or not, but I did it! I got everything that was on your hard drive!"

I was so thrilled I wanted to reach right through the phone lines and give him a big kiss right on the lips!

I was quickly brought back down to earth with, "But why in the heck would someone with as much savvy as you not keep a back up?"

"Uh... I'd rather not discuss that if you don't mind!"

Two days later my laptop was returned to me with a brand new hard drive intact. And ALL of my files were right there on it! I was ecstatic! I was also handed 2 new USB data sticks with the laptop. "Don't be so foolish again!", the computer guy warned me!

The cost to recover my lost data?

$844.50. OUCH!!!

So what do I do now?

My data is automatically stored in a second external hard drive, keeping it away from the heat of the laptop. I also have an automated subscription backup that backs up my data every single day, four times a day. [I use Mozy.] And once a week I back up all of my genealogy and digital files to USB data sticks. [It takes several, with my extensive files.]

I leave nothing to chance any longer! My system is well protected from over heating [I use a cooling mat, and elevate my laptop for air circulation.] And I make sure all backups are done according to the strict schedule I have set for them.

It was probably one of the more financially expensive lessons I had to learn in genealogy. But one of the ones I WILL NEVER FORGET!!!

1 comment:

Lori said...

Oh my gosh! Thank goodness you were able to retrieve the data! I don't have nearly that much, but I try to copy/back up as much as I can. What an expensive lesson! Ouch!