advertisement
advertisement

Fish on Friday: Yesterday, I was very afraid. Today, I’m safe & sound.

For a long time, I’ve been worried about something I had the power to fix. It is something important — not life & death, but in the next tier. The amazing thing is, I could have made the worry go away any time I wanted. I’ve been worried about my computer. Like most people, my life is packed into my computer.

For a long time, I’ve been worried about something I had the power to fix. It is something important — not life & death, but in the next tier. The amazing thing is, I could have made the worry go away any time I wanted.

advertisement

I’ve been worried about my computer.

Like most people, my life is packed into my computer.

My work is reporting and writing — all my stories and sources, interviews and phone numbers going back 10 years are in the computer. But also email, the address book, lists of story ideas, the calendar, pictures, music, financial stuff. Videos of last year’s elementary school talent show.

In fact, some of the most precious stuff is the most recent — notes for stories not yet written, emails from the last 10 days I haven’t had a chance to answer. That’s always the case — that material is always sitting there, vulnerable.

My computer is a laptop. I have no other. At the office, it sits on the desk, surrounded by the usual detritus, usually including a cup of coffee and a glass of water.

advertisement
advertisement

On the road, my laptop is in my laptop carry bag. Every time I slide it into the bag, I worry about it. Every time, out of tiredness, I set it down too hard on an airport concourse floor, I think: Uh-oh. I may have just destroyed my hard drive, and unwound my life.

I’ve been worried about my computer for a long time. How about you?

Two things got my attention in the last couple weeks. The first is that a Fast Company colleague had his hard-drive die. His computer, well, it’s just like mine. If anything, he’s neater, cleaner, more careful than me. Much that was important was not recoverable.

Then, just yesterday, Salon’s advice columnist, Cary Tennis, fielded an agonized question from a university grad student who had her laptop stolen, and her backup hard drive stolen too. Hers is an emotional letter — Tennis actually reminds her that despite losing the work, the pictures, the mementos, she still has her friends, her memories, herself.

But those two things sparked my own computer anxiety. I’ve known for more than a year about a couple services to backup my entire computer, automatically, off-site. The services are simple, really: You go to a website, sign up, download some software, and upload anything you want to keep safe.

Then, you tell the service how often you want it to backup anything on your computer that’s changed. Once a day? Once a week? Not a problem. All done automatically.

advertisement

With a couple of the services, if you lose your data — today’s meeting notes, the photos from the river-rafting trip in the summer of 1999 — you can simply go to the website and recover them. If your computer dies, if it is stolen, you can restore everything you’ve backed up, as fast as they can get a DVD disk to you, or as fast as your Internet connection can download what you’ve uploaded.

Yesterday morning, I was worried about my computer. So I signed up for one of the services, Mozy. Total cost for two years of unlimited backup: $98.76. Two years of daily backups for not even $1 a week.

Both the Wall Street Journal’s great tech columnist Walt Mossberg and the tech site Ars Technica have reviewed a range of automated, online backup services in detail.

Yesterday, my computer was at risk. At this moment, on Friday afternoon, Mozy’s got 93.2 percent of my data stored securely out in Utah. The computers are protecting my computer.

It took me less than 10 minutes to sign up, pay, download the software, pick what I wanted backed up (everything), and start the archiving process.

Are you worried about your computer? Have you got 10 minutes?

advertisement