The Tech Trip

Disclaimer: there might be some bad language but when you read my tale you’ll understand.

Anybody who deals with computers, tablets or smart phones is going to sympathize with this post. Now according to my husband’s ornery Scottish grandfather, sympathy sits between shit and syphilis in the dictionary for a good reason. I, on the other hand, believe a small amount of sympathy can turn in to a learning opportunity. I what I learned was to pay attention. So here’s my sympathy inducing tale that tripped me up like a case of rampant syphilis and turned my tech woes in to a shitty couple of weeks.

All start-ups have costs. These vary widely of course depending on if you are launching Tesla Motors, a new health app or, in my case, a communications business.  The good news is my costs are low because most of the info is in my head and that’s easily put to use for you from the comfort of my basement office and a laptop. The bad news is that a lot of what I deliver for clients involves proposals, designs, documentation, blog posts, editing, photos, etc. and the software necessary to produce them. So begins my tale of woe.

I was able to use my spanky new laptop to start my business. It was very shiny and seemingly from a trustworthy manufacturer. This to me conveyed a false sense of security and quality that was in fact, as false and as painful, as Mercury was in its day to cure syphilis. I had loaded up my Adobe design software, added Windows 8, had the pro version of MS Office and set up my Google drive desktop. Yeah! Six months in to my business with all that software in use and a much fuller documents file than when I started thanks to my clients (another yeah!), the unthinkable happened. Or at least what I wasn’t prepared for happened: my hard drive failed. Spectacularly I might add. Hugely spectacularly. Is sympathy creeping in to your reading experience yet?

Now most of you, I hope at least, have a decent back up system in place. Cloud, external drive, whatever floats your boat. I, in my ignorance and blush of new business, had not set that up yet. After all, my laptop was new! Or new enough at least. I was also on a steep entrepreneurial learning curve and my brain, quite frankly, was a bit full. Too full apparently to see the potential for disaster in my lack of back up situation. Add to that disaster the complete lack of customer support from the maker and seller of the offending laptop and I think you’ll agree that my experience was like having a bad case of the runs with a syphilitic bolus. My personal favorite was the online support who offered to walk me through formatting my hard drive without attempting any kind of data retrieval. You might want to have some sympathy for the support guy. I wasn’t very nice.

My point? I made the huge mistake of thinking that technology had a certain minimum viable lifespan that bought be a bit of safety and certainly a bit of time. I knew the value of backing up long before this episode stole two weeks of productivity and had me scrambling like a Christmas hostess whose dog just ate the turkey. But with all that is involved in starting up a business, I waited and made protecting my technology a low priority. I waited and have now had to spend over $600 on a level II tech retrieval for the busted hard drive and over $800 on a desk top computer to make sure that this never happens again.

Out of my tale of woe, I’ve learned a few things and even if you already know the value of backing up but may have become a little lax in your efforts, my hope is that this will prompt a speedy revival of your protection efforts:

1. Laptops: Portable, convenient and crazy unstable. Unless you have an SSD (solid state drive) in place which can also fail. My biggest bad? Putting my computer to sleep instead of shutting down completely while travelling. Apparently hard drives don’t take kindly to being in motion in sleep mode. Sleep to us implies not moving, but to a hard drive it’s more like the restless spouse on a shaky bed with a crappy box spring when it comes to your computer.

2. It Takes 2 – The best piece of advice I got was to have a back up computer. I went with a desk top. Why? I won’t be moving it around, it’s faster than a laptop and I can do more with it but spend less money than a new laptop for the same memory, etc. I looked at all-in-ones as well but don’t recommend them as repairs and upgrades are near impossible. It does require a bit of double installing but I’ll never be without the software I need again and I can access files from the Google Drive.

3. Back Up Plan – did I mention that backing up would have saved me a ton of trouble? I’m currently using Google Drive to save any files and will be double backing up to a cloud service as well an external drive. Use whatever software comes with your system to make a recovery media so at least you have something to use when your hard drive fails. Notice I say when not if. Because trust me: it will  happen.

4. Software – If you’ve installed software and have the option to get a CD or USB, get it. Trust me. I downloaded software as part of my Sheridan College tuition in 2012 and access expires after a year. I had to pay a re-connection fee to be able to access the files. I also recommend saving the activation emails to a cloud drive and printing them for your files. They’ve got those handy codes and links that will save you time and money.

I hope this inspires you to take care of your business from the laptop up. If I’ve not got your sympathy vote and you’re just shaking your head at my idiocy – join the club. I’ve done a lot of head shaking over the past two weeks and not just to get out the crap that filled my ears from all the tech people I had to deal with. Protection is not something to be taken lightly for any part of your life, but if you are in a stable relationship with your tech sometimes you can get a bit lazy. My suggestion? Back that sh*t up. It will cost you more than it’s worth to not pay attention in the first place.

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