If you’ve ever woken up one morning to discover that 10 years of your work is now sitting on a fried hard drive, you’ll appreciate that it’s a unique experience. After scraping yourself off the ceiling, you then proceed to try to do something about the problem, and use up about 10 years worth of stress hormones in a few phone calls.
If you’re a freelancer, you can even spend a few enchanting mental decades per minute trying to figure out how to pay for the computer repairs. The good news is that the situation is avoidable. The bad news is that you do have to think about possible problems, preferably a long time in advance.
The warning signs
If you’d like to avoid this wonderful opportunity to become a gibbering idiot, there are a few things you need to know. The computer will give you several clues when it’s not feeling well.
The clues are:
- Slow or unusual operations
- Uncharacteristic errors
- Programs becoming dysfunctional
- The beeping sounds from the hard drive
- Electrical smells or “vibes” from the computer, usually just an impression of something unusual or odd
All sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it, but unfortunately hard drive crashes for some reason usually aren’t the main things on people’s minds, particularly if they’re working. Real problems for hard drives are easily analyzed after the event, when the last thing you want to do is analyze anything, particularly yourself.
These clues all add up to one basic response – Take the hints. Computers don’t play up for no reason, and if your computer hasn’t been recently serviced, start getting suspicious when these things happen. Call your computer support people, and at least get an opinion. Don’t be too cynical if they suggest coming in for a checkup, because after all they do need to look at the computer to see if there is a problem.
There are ways of minimizing the effects of a hard drive crash. The most obvious, and definitely the best, is to get a good external hard drive, just to make sure you don’t lose your data. This at least gives you some peace of mind, and allows you to focus on simply dealing with the issues created by a dysfunctional computer.
There are some other options, ranging from the expensive to the ingenious, and they’re pretty much a matter of taste.
- Online storage is one reliable option, although the expense may make you think twice.
- Storing important information as e-mail is cheap and sneaky, and it’s also quite effective provided you can get your hands on another computer. You can simply e-mail your information to yourself, preferably using good headers, and you’ve got a ready-made file system.
- A spare computer can easily be rigged up as a failsafe, and of course has the added advantage of being available immediately.
The most important thing of all is to think about the possibilities of a hard drive crash. Make sure you do have a contingency plan, and if it is never likely to be a pleasant experience, it doesn’t have to be fatal.