It is a far, far, better backup I make now than I have ever made. It is a far better search I make for install disks than I have ever done. Sydney (Antistatic) Carton.
I’m not entirely unread, you know.
Backing up is only a small part of the battle. Here’s a cautionary tale for computer failure.
Step 1. Swear a lot at broken computer, then go out and buy a new hard disk. Marvel at the amount of storage available now: it’s not possible to buy disks smaller than that required to contain the population census for a medium-sized country. Pay, and swear some more. You know this one’s going to break long before it’s even partly filled.
Step 2. Disassemble computer. This is easy. Mine has a clip on top which, when pressed, releases the side of the box. No screws to remove and subsequently lose. The hard disk is held in a plastic carrier so no screws there to remove, lose, or get confused with the ones that held the case.
Step 3. Remove hard disk, apply liberal sprinkling of very bad words and set aside for later attention with a large hammer. Insert and connect new hard disk, press computer side into place. So far, the work of minutes and very little effort (apart from thinking up original ways to curse).
Step 4. Reinstall Windows XP. This involves a lot of waiting, preferably accompanied by a full bottle of absinthe and new, imaginative swear words when it tries to install American dictionaries, keyboard, etc. Several hours pass.
Step 5. Reach for program disks, remember they were put in a ‘safe place’ years ago, when first installed, and try to remember where that is. This is not assisted by the absinthe consumed during step 4.
Step 6. Disassemble house looking for install disks. Make mental note to search Internet for swear words in other languages since the English ones are all used up by now.
Step 7. Reinstall those disks you can find, curse in absentia those you can’t. Attempt to persuade computer to connect to the Internet. Howl at the moon. It’s just as effective.
Step 8. Threaten to punch monitor. This achieves nothing but you feel better for it. Try again to connect to Internet. Realise you’ve forgotten the password and swear some more. Try all possible passwords until it works. As soon as it does, leave computer while XP adds in dozens of updates it’s found on Microsoft’s site. When it’s finished, the programs you installed will do the same. Everything wants to be registered again. Everything. Reach for new bottle of absinthe.
Step 9. Try to set up Email, realise you’ve forgotten the passwords and connection details for all Email accounts and beat head against desk. Determine to write them all down when you’ve worked out what they are. Drink absinthe. It won’t help but by now you won’t care any more.
Step 10. With Email at least partially working, try to remember that huge list of favourite sites in the browser. Open browser. Swear at it while it updates itself.
Step 11. Find a few sites, realise you don’t know the passwords any more because Windows did all that. Get passwords emailed. Write them down this time.
Step 12. Finally, after all this, those backup disks come into play. Now you can put all your files back even though you’ve drunk so much absinthe you no longer have any will to read them.
Backups are only part of the story. You also need to keep all those installation disks in one place, together, where you can find them. As for the security risk of writing down passwords, well, to hell with it. Write them down. Keep that with the install disks. If someone steals your computer, disks and passwords, you really won’t be that much worse off than if you had a hard disk failure anyway.
Step 13. Sleep off massive absinthe hangover. Hope that, in your dreams, the place you put those last few install disks and email account details will show themselves. Yes, it’s futile, but it’s your last hope. At least when you wake your breath smells of anise rather than booze.
And now, at last, normal service will be resumed.