A previous post discussed the risks that can come with, ba-dum, assuming! Yet here I have done it again. What about this time? Computer usage. More specifically, saving/backing up.

It was freshman year of high school. By then, the internet was a thing, yet not nearly the eponymous concept pervasive throughout society. It was for tech-savvy people to play and others to exchange e-mails and instant messages with family and friends found through Classmates.com.

Put it this way: No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Without these kings of distractions invented yet (there was MySpace), I did my homework. Towards the end of the year, I had a research paper on China. Yes, as a freshman I summarized the entire history of China into a few typed pages (double-spaced!); there might have been a few things left out.

Anyway, I wrote and wrote, saving regularly. Every day or so, I copied the file onto a 3.5″ floppy (remember those?). However, towards the end of composition, I had forgotten to do the disk backup, and added most of the final content. Just as I finished it, ready to hit print, the computer froze. Upon restarting, it wouldn’t even boot.

The hard drive died. In computers, that’s about as bad as it gets.

To say I was upset would be an understatement. The paper was due shortly and I had lost a large portion of my work. In a fit of desperation, I kicked the computer (we still used desktops). I heard a few clicks, then a whine. The hard drive was struggling to spin! By refining my kick into strategic knocks and taps, I managed to get the system running (it took repeated restarts as it continually froze), then finally copied the treasured file onto a floppy.

I got lucky. But I learned a valuable lesson that day: If you care about it, back it up.

Today, my backup routines consist of more than blunt-force impacts. I use a combination of cloud backup, external drives, synced computers, hosted servers, and cloned operating systems. I’m thankful to say that since that fateful day, I have not lost anything of value.

Why tell this whole story? It turns out, my situation from long ago, which I think of as a helpful lesson, happens daily even now. I had assumed that people no longer lost content, since we have so many easy and free ways to back up your data. An Amazon Student Facebook giveaway showed me otherwise. To enter, they wanted you to post a technology nightmare. Almost every one told a tale of data lost.

So I want to help. My next post will explain all of my backup routines, the services I use, how often they are done, and what is best to go where. A few minutes per week alongside an understanding of what software will protect your data is all it takes to reduce the odds of losing anything of value.

Isn’t that end-of-quarter finance report worth protecting? What about your family photos?

Here’s the backup advice, available as the next post (look, I’m writing from the future!). For now, the old advice stands: Save early and often!