I left my iMac computer this morning like I always do and headed off to my non-writing job after posting the weather on the local community page and running a quick check on Facebook. All normal activities and after closing all my screens, except for the book I have open on Word, I left the house.
I almost never turn my Mac off, though I might start doing that just in case the ‘trouble’ was caused by some sort of power fluctuation.
Came home from the non-writing job and the computer screen was black, just like it usually is when it’s been asleep all day. I like to take this moment to wipe off all the fingerprints that mysteriously end up on the screen (I blame kids!). There is the moment of creeping realization when you keep pressing the space bar and nothing happens that it dawns – something is wrong with my computer. Clicking the mouse doesn’t work either. And then when pushing the power button fails to make the machine respond – well that is the worst feeling of all. That is an ‘oh shit’ feeling of something is REALLY wrong with my computer that you don’t wish on your worse enemy.
Now, I have an old house and every once in a while the power goes out for no reason at all, so I asked around to the other occupants (kids again!) – was there a power outage today that you know of? No? I was really hoping that was it. I checked the fuse box, because I have an old house and sometimes the fuses blow for no reason at all (well, usually because the microwave and the coffee pot are going at the same time = instant fuse kill.) But all the fuses that usually work were in the on position and there was no orange showing where anything blew. Really was hoping THAT was it. Now we’re back to the computer being messed up, and if it is, well, let’s just say it would be a REALLY BAD THING.
I remember through the fog of mounting alarm that wait, I have a Mac and yes, I do have this handy program called Time Machine that automatically backs up all my important stuff, and stores it on the 40 gazillion byte phone-sized external drive that’s sitting on the Mac pedestal under the screen, and I breathe again. Yes, even though it would be a VERY BAD THING if my computer is indeed dead – I have everything backed up.
The machine can be replaced. The 8 books I have on the hard drive, all the associated materials for those books, the covers, the photos, etc can not be replicated. There’s too much information that would be lost, and lost for good. It would probably mean the end of the publication of the series were I to lose all that information. So writers, don’t take the chance of not completely backing up your material – because you never know when your computer will just shut off and not come back on. Can you afford to take the hard drive in and have them recover your data? Will you recover ALL your material? That is a question I don’t ever want to wonder about. Save yourself the horror.
Now, not everyone is a big fan of Apple. You may not have a backup system like Time Machine. The point is – you MUST have a backup system. If you are a writer it’s absolutely critical that you do, and that point was driven home today when my usually reliable computer stopped being reliable.
The computer, if you’re curious, had what is called a kernel panic. Aptly named, since once I managed to get the machine on again and it said, you’ve had a kernel panic – that’s about what I did, right before I got on the phone to Apple. First off, the computer that answers their phone actually understands what you are saying even if you are incoherent. It doesn’t mind if you say OH for Zero when you give it your phone number and the voice is a nice, soothing calm voice (of a guy) and when it understood me saying ‘uh, it turned off on its own and it says I have a panic, no a kernel panic, and I don’t know what that means’, I knew right then I was in good hands. Hold on, I was told, by the soothing computer-voice-man, and we’ll connect you with technical support. A real human answered in less than 2 minutes and immediately set about fixing the problem, step by step. And that is the other reason I am and will continue to be a consumer of Apple products. They have excellent customer service. I’ve had a number of computers in my life from various computer companies. None, not the IBM, not the Gateway, not the other off brands I’ve purchased can compare to the level of service typical from Apple support. Thank you Apple Tech people for being so awesome.
It would have really sucked to start Spring Break with a busted computer, and now, I don’t have to.