NaNoWriMo Warning – Do What I Say, Not What I Didn’t Do.

I lost my laptop today. The Acer crashed, with all my NaNo novel on it. And some even more important data, if that’s possible. I’ve had a little cry, got a headache from the stress of trying to get the machine to live, and now my hands are in the fates of a call to computer geekville tomorrow morning.

Here’s a quick list of things leading up to my misery, some I did right, some wrong. Learn, and you may be saved my stress.

  • We’ve known my working PC has been on it’s way out for some time now. Years, if you listen to me, a few months according to my husband, who was trying to find the funds to replace it as a present. One birthday rolled over, then Christmas…then another birthday. Other things had to take precedence. Like my daughter’s viola, for instance. We went and purchased that yesterday, although the plans were finally in. In four week’s time I was destined to be gifted a new laptop for Christmas.
    • Don’t wait – when your computer is on the way out, replace it asap.
  • Backing up has always been a chore but I’ve been pretty good at it. I also have a lot of digital data such as image files to back up. These previously went onto an external hard-drive or two. Two months ago I ran out of storage space. I had to wait a month before we could find the extra cash to purchase a terabyte external drive. Suddenly I had copious space, so spent two days copying over files. In the process, my system of backing up my digital design layouts and daily data such as writing files.
    • Ensure the backup processes you do have in place are regular, and check they are working and going to the place you are expecting them to be going to.
  • The writing software I use is Scrivener for Windows. This has an excellent close-down backup system. Most of my writing projects previously written in this software has been saved / backed up to an external drive. However, the current novel, and any other projects created since 1st November, have been backing up daily – to my data drive or d:\ on my laptop. This meant it was saving to two places – on the same laptop. I hadn’t as yet setup a regular backup from the d:\ to another backup directory on my new terabyte drive.
    • For something as important as a current project, backup daily – to two places, one external from the regular data drive you may be using.
  • Now let’s talk software a little more. Not only do I use Scrivener, but I use all sorts of other software – some of it expensive, for doing tasks such as drawing up floorplans, taking research notes, image preparation, blogging, social networking, notecards, and many more I’ve surely forgotten in the stress of the situation. Some have been purchased online, downloaded as working copies. Others have had license keys sent to me after the purchase. Here’s something I finally did right – I kept the license keys for most of them, when known, and for more recent ones – even kept the emails containing the keys in a special folder on gmail. For most, once I do have a new laptop, I can recreate. Several, however, are quite old, and no longer maintained, or replaceable. I’ve just loaded Scrivener onto my husband’s laptop. There are no files here, but it’s nice to see a little familiarity. I also have for many years used a plugin for my browser which shares all my bookmarks across all my logins, so accessing all the important websites – like my own blog – is still available to me. I also use a lot of cloud-sharing technology – but not enough.
    • Keep the downloads, exes, and license keys for software backed up, and available on online storage also.
    • Keep bookmarks, and files online and securely stored as much as possible, so that they can be accessed anywhere.

It’s not the end of the world (or so my husband has convinced me, but then – it’s not his baby). The crash we experienced appears a commonplace one for acer aspire users, and a computer geek should be able to get the thing rebooted to a state where it’s either recoverable, or I can access and copy over the d:\ data, which I cross my fingers will include my missing novel.

However, setting up software like dropbox, and even files within Scrivener for the project, and getting around the missing software I desperately need will put me out several days.

Yesterday I tapped out another 300 words on my iPAD for the novel. It was done in the distraction-full environment of a children’s cricket match, and eventually I decided to give up on the attempt. My daughter’s batting was worth it. I can continue to finish off that scene, and perhaps the next, on the iPAD, although it’s slow-going on that device. Or use this laptop.

My hope – and one I have to hold onto at this point – is that eventually the two pieces of text will join up. If the data isn’t recoverable, then basically my novel is gone. That’s not a thought I or any other NaNo writer would ever contemplate.

Eventually I will hopefully have the novel back, and be back in business.

NaNoWriMo holds a backup day within the month. Don’t wait around for it.

3 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Warning – Do What I Say, Not What I Didn’t Do.

  1. If you’ll be buying a new computer, ask if they have a service to copy the old drive onto the new. They might have the necessary hardware to retrieve the data from the old hard drive and copy it down. Just a thought.

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