(www.inkthinkerblog.com) — Imagine this: It’s the night before a big deadline, about 10 p.m. You’re in the middle of attaching your revised, almost-final draft of a major proposal to an e-mail to your client when your computer freezes. You try everything you can think of to no avail, so you do a forced shut-down…and then your computer never turns back on. And inside, trapped, is the proposal you have been slaving over for weeks.
The one that’s due to the client tomorrow morning.
Yeah, that’s what happened to me last month. What would you have done? Me, well, I had a panic attack.
Let’s back up a minute.
For the last several months, there’s been something wrong with my computer. It was freezing randomly, and certain processes were running really slowly. I kept calling tech support and they’d walk me through a temporary fix, but the problems just kept coming back. In the meantime, my external hard drive (aka, the useless-when-I-actually-needed-it backup drive) spontaneously stopped working and had to be sent out for replacement. I didn’t really think much of it, and I was learning to live with the random slowness.
And then disaster struck. I was literally — literally — attaching the draft to the e-mail when the computer froze up. Literally. If it had waited 30 seconds, this would still be a sucky story but not an absolute freakin’ nightmare. Don’t worry, I won’t disappoint. It was an utter disaster.
I called my client as soon as I realized there was a problem, but at that point I wasn’t in complete panic mode yet. That came later.
I still had faith in tech support walking me through some magical fix by phone. She stayed calm, I stayed calm, we agreed that she would e-mail the end client and just let them know that there was a tech glitch and we’d sent the document as soon as it was resolved. But then I hung up the phone and tried to do a little troubleshooting of my own by attempting to access my desktop through my laptop like an external drive. That’s when I got the message that my desktop’s hard drive didn’t exist. That was when I had the panic attack.
The next morning I was on the phone with tech support when they opened. We tried everything. Nothing happened. “Well,” the guy said, “the next option would be to erase the hard drive and reinstall everything from scratch to see if that will make it recognize it.” Uh, dude, are you on CRACK? eRASE the HARD drive? When my STUFF is still ON there?
That obviously didn’t fly. Instead, I got a referral to a data recovery service and my husband cancelled all of his plans for the day and schlepped the comptuer to the local store for some on-site attempts at repair. Nada. Data recovery it was.
And data recovery is expensive! The quotes I got ranged from $2,000 to $9,000, with no guarantee of success. Since I hadn’t set the computer on fire, thrown it down the stairs, or immersed it in water or another liquid, the company I ultimately went with was pretty optimistic that they’d be able to get at least something back for me. Something. Gee, thanks. But I FexExed it off to them and started waiting.
Last night I got an e-mail: Please call our customer service department about your order. When I did, a nice lady named Kelly told me they had recovered more than 99% of my data. I screamed. “Kelly,” I said, “if you were in the room I would hug you.” She laughed. The bill? Only (and I use the term loosely) $2,100 and change. Considering how much worse it could have been, I’ll take it.
I’ll have my data back by the end of the week, and my computer is still under warranty so I should have a new machine shortly thereafter.
“But Kristen,” you ask, “what happened with the proposal?”
Once I realized that the file was gone forever, or at least until well after the deadline, I busted out my laptop and combed my sent e-mails for earlier drafts, and then painstakingly reconstructed the 10 hours of work I had put in the day before in about 4 hours. I’m still not sure how I managed it. We missed that deadline by a few hours but still made the important one — the deadline to actually submit the proposal — with time to spare, so all’s well that ends well. And I’m getting my files back! Woohoo!
- One backup method is not enough. (That phrase makes me think of middle school sex ed class. Snort.)
- Never underestimate the value of e-mailing yourself interim drafts to a Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or other Web-based account so if you have a crisis, you also have a safety net.
- When you screw up, whether it’s your fault or a circumstance beyond your control, just panicking doesn’t help. Panic for a few minutes, but then get it together and bust your butt to make it right; if you do that, you’ll keep your client despite the crisis.
After we sent the reconstructed draft to the end client, my client said to me, “I wasn’t going to tell you this last night, but I was really nervous. I’ve been left holding the bag in situations like this before, and we haven’t really been in the trenches together yet. You get an A+ for professionalism and perseverance. And this makes me want to work with you even more.” Hey, works for me!
Contents Copyright © 2006-2014 Kristen King