Monday, February 7, 2011

A Public Service Announcement

People. I have a public service announcement for you.


Trust me on this one.

Let me set the scene for you. It’s later on Friday night. I’m minding my own business when I notice the little warning sign thingy on my screen that means updates will be installed next time I restart the computer.

No big deal. Updates are installed all the time. I wasn’t doing anything important at the moment, so I rebooted.

But something went HORRIBLY, TERRIBLY wrong, because while I could hear my computer running, the screen was totally black. Like, the darkness of hell black. Rather than panic, I just figured I needed to reboot again.

It’s my go-to answer for everything.

Apparently no one told the computer that was supposed to solve all our problems. I was eventually able to get it running in safe mode and then went to my handy-dandy iPad so I could look on the internet and find out how to fix it. I mean, Padma would never steer me wrong, right? I searched high and low and everything said that, in this instance, you should reload Vista. So I found my original disks that came with the laptop and reinstalled it.

I just did what the people told me.

The people did not tell me, however, that reloading Vista would

[I can see all of you Mac owners grinning superior right now. Stop it.]

People, I would have been happy if it was back to factory settings. The screen looked awful, I couldn’t use the internet, I couldn’t use the speakers, the webcam, the microphone… everything was gone, along with every document and every program I ever installed.

[let’s have a moment of silence for the sheer panic that hit me at this point.]

Ok, so Miss Clueless over here was sitting with a broken computer and not one iota of an idea of what to do. So I just randomly started taking the original disks I had in hand and putting them in to see what was on them. Apparently they were loaded with drivers. I didn’t even know what drivers did, to be honest, but I started loading those suckers and randomly my computer started acting more like a computer again.

Score one for me.

All of this, mind you, took me until 4:00 in the morning. Let me also say that I don’t have the energy or the pain control to be sitting with my computer that long, and I’m feeling the ramifications of that now. But people, when your computer is your only link to the outside world, a situation like this is a full-on-meltdown-stay-up-until-four-in-the-morning type of emergency.

Anyway, as I spent the rest of the weekend reloading every program I have in house, finding my downloaded programs on the Internet to see if I could get them reloaded without paying again, and loading all the photos and documents I was smart enough to back up, I decided it might be a good time for you all to learn from the fruits of my stupidity.

Here are a few tips, after having now lost and revived my computer, about what you want to make sure you have backed up in case this happens to you:

  1. The usual suspects. I mean, everyone knows that you should back up your documents and your photos, right?
  2. The more unusual suspects. If you are a scrapbooker or digital creator like I am, you are going to want to make sure you also back up your “Fonts” folder. This was a lifesaver because all of my digital scrapbooking is designed with fonts that would turn into a boring Arial next time I open them up if I don’t have the correct fonts installed.
  3. All of your downloaded software. I have a number of programs, like FotoFX and ACDSee for example, that I bought and downloaded on the Internet. Burn these .exe files to a CD or DVD, and be sure you also put the registration code on that disk. I was lucky that I had registered on most of the sites, so they had my information in the online account and let me re-download them. A couple of them were great with customer service and helped me find my registration codes. If this hadn’t happened I would have had to repurchase them all. And that would be bad.
  4. If there is a software program that also has a corresponding app for your iPod or iPad, get it and sync them. I keep my financial stuff in SplashMoney and I lost everything. I now downloaded the matching app on my iPad and have them sync so if I lose my computer again, all the information is backed up there.

All in all, I got really lucky. I lost some stuff and had to repurchase a few programs, but I could have lost everything if I hadn’t backed up at all. The crappy part is all the organizational stuff. If any of you are digital scrapbookers, you know the number of hours that goes into tagging all of your supplies and organizing them in something like ACDSee. I now have to start from scratch, which means I’m going to procrastinate that chore until a day when I have more than a gnat sized energy. :)

And Bloggers: If you are writing in an outside program [I use and love Windows Live Writer] make sure you also back up those unpublished files. I had quite a few ideas written down that are now lost and gone forever. Which sucks. But I figure if they were any good they’ll come back to mind again someday in the future. :)

The lesson here, above all else, is that if your computer fritzes out… DO NOT TRUST THE INTERNET’S ADVICE. I panicked and reloaded Vista, which means I had just enough skill to be dangerous. So I’m offering you this public service announcement to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Consider me your egg in a frying pan telling you that your brain is on drugs.

Any questions? :)

[If you are too young to get that reference, don’t tell me. I don’t need to be thinking I’m old as well as stupid.]

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