A little over two weeks ago, my computer died. The battery was acting up and then the hard drive starting to make a terrifying clicking sound. I got the blue screen of death. When I rebooted it, the screen was black, with the words ‘cannot find operating system’ appeared.
I wasn’t too concerned, however, because just under a year ago I bought a subscription to Crash Plan. I’m in emergency management, so I was thinking a wireless back-up system would be preferable to an external drive, because if there were an earthquake or a fire, the external drive would be useless (crushed or burned), while a cloud system could be accessed from anywhere.
I subscribed and set up my account, then downloaded the Crash Plan app. Following the site’s instructions, I selected what I wanted to back up, and hit the ‘start back-up’ button. It was late on a Thursday night, but I really wanted to get it done (I get that way), so I stayed up and watched as it backed up all of my files. It took a fair bit of time. When it was done, I selected how often I wanted it to do a back up, and that was it.
So, like I said, I was pretty relieved I’d done that, as when I took my computer in, they first thought they could recover the data from the hard drive, but in the end could not. Last night Austin picked up my computer, and we turned it on. The guy at PC Fix had loaded some odd items onto my computer (in addition to the standard things). For example, when I booted up, a gaming software system popped up, complete with his log-in information saved. Yikes. Eventually Austin did a full wipe and reinstalled Windows. In the meantime I went to the website of Crash Plan to follow the instructions to recover all of my data. I downloaded the app again, and signed in, and saw that it had completed a back-up 18 days earlier. Cool. I went to retrieve all of my files and …
Panic. For a brief moment. But Austin talked me down and said he’d figure it out. I took a shower and came back, and he confirmed … yup. No files.
I mentioned Crash Plan on twitter while Austin sent a tech support item. Today, thought multiple back-and-forth conversations, their tech support have tried to convince me that I never hit the ‘start back-up’ button.
This is not a matter of me making an error. I’ve done that. It happens and it sucks. But this? This I KNOW, with certainty, I did. I have a vivid memory of it. So my guess is that when that happened, something got fucked up on their end. Which is fine. I mean, a bummer, but fine. I just wish they’d own up to it, and accept that they screwed up. Instead, they offered me a year-long extension on my subscription.
In what world would I extend a subscription with a company that so dramatically screwed the pooch the first time around? Because of them, I now have no tax documents, no dissertation, no cover letters, no work I did for a few of the organizations I volunteer with. No list of places I’ve lived for the next time I apply for a government job. Thankfully most of my pictures from the last few years are online, so those are safe. But I just finished a project scanning and uploading all of the documents I had in paper form, so those are gone. I have no record of any of the service performed on my car. No receipts for items of value for insurance purposes. Shoot, I don’t even have my renter’s insurance policy.
But it’s going to be okay. I’ll find the documents I’ve lost if I really need them (like, say, my tax returns for when we buy a house). I had emailed my book to a couple of people, so that’s not gone. And I learned a couple of lessons.
1. Don’t trust Crash Plan. In fact, don’t trust any online back-up. Once you’ve completed the back-up the first time, check that all of your files are there. Delete a couple that aren’t needed and try to restore them from online. Screen-cap the whole process and save that in your email, just in case. Every week or so, check and make sure it is still doing the back-up properly.
2. Use an external back-up drive. My goal is to secure one that is large enough for important items (probably won’t put photos and music on there, since I can save that to the cloud easily) and then save to it twice a year, and store it in a safety deposit box.
Thanks to Austin, my computer is now mostly back to normal. I’ve got the right OS, I’ve got my Microsoft office, and most of my other programs. I’ve still got some more things to download and sync, but it’s nearly as good as new. I doubt I’ll get any further with figuring out why Crash Plan failed, but that’s okay. I’ve learned my lesson.
And I got to find all sorts of cute pictures of kittens. Everybody wins!