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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Save That Computer Stuff! name is Marianne and I'm computer-challenged. I admit this freely. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels all the time, just trying to keep on the edge of computer knowledge, and then something always goes wrong and I'm ten steps behind.

Email accounts. We all have them. Most have more than one...I do. But I stayed faithful to the one account I've had since I first entered the wonderful world of computers. It was always comforting, familiar, and welcomed me each day like a friend. I slipped into that state of complete bliss just knowing I could use it whenever I wanted. And, my address book teemed with family, friends, and publishing/business contacts.

Ah...the business side of email accounts. My publisher, editor, publishing loops, special friends in my writing world. I devotedly checked my email on a daily basis, usually more than once.

Disaster struck one Friday night. I couldn't get into my account. Panic welled inside me but I hoped it was just a temporary glitch. And, I smugly decided, all was safely backed up in the program the email account managers had offered.

So, I stayed calm, assuring myself that my address book, inbox, and files for sent messages, publisher information, saved messages, fun stuff, and twelve other files for other things would magically appear the next day or surely in the back-up program.

No problem. I felt safe.

Then came the next day, Saturday. My husband worked all day sending and receiving messages from my email account's service. Nothing worked. Not only couldn't they understand why I lost everything, but they also couldn't figure out why the back-up system failed and had nothing in it...and I'd been faithfully backing up for months. And, to add insult to injury, some of the "technician's" messages were standard form messages, not even addressing the questions asked. Oh...they did manage to send me an address list from my address book...except that it was at least 8 years old. I knew that for a fact since someone on that "retrieved" list had died in 2000.

Panic set in that Saturday night. I had to go to all my loops and redirect message to different email accounts. Also had to request that if anyone had sent me personal answers to questions I'd asked on loops to please resend messages to a new address. I had to notify my editor, publisher and others in the company of my change in address.

Friends and family. My address book. Now I was faced with the real tricky part of getting all that information back without making a gazillion phone calls. I found an old (June 2007) address list I'd printed out. From that, I emailed twenty or so names that I knew hadn't changed addresses and asked if they still had/kept any general group messages I'd sent recently (new book release, book out in print, etc., announcements). I needed them to forward my message back to me so I could retrieve some addresses.

Yes! Some wonderful friends and family members had kept my messages, or hadn't had time to read them yet, and sent me addresses. So I rebuilt my address book at a different location.

My point to writers and readers?
Back up all important messages and, well, anything you don't want to lose in cyberspace
Print out your email list once a month (I already have it marked on my calendar).

Somehow, no matter how fast technology pushes us to utilize computers, backing up on different computers, flash drives, in different files, folders, programs, can help. And, a paper copy of valuable information placed in a filing cabinet is always a alternate, positive choice.

What do you do to keep your computer stuff from disappearing?

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Molly Daniels said...

For my last birthday, I told my mom I wanted more printer paper. When I opened the huge box, my dad had gotten me enough to last an entire year or more! But then my printer broke...I'm only on the second package!

And I'm a die-hard keep-a-paper-copy! I print out excerpts from others, so I don't forget why I want to buy the book; I print out copies of my own work; I print special emails I don't want to lose.

Tara W said...

This is advice I need to follow. I rarely save or backup anything and I know that one day it will bite me in the butt! So far i've been lucky! I do print out my really important emails and a list of my most important contacts.

mizztuts @

Marianne Stephens said...

Molly and Tara,
Thanks for leaving comments! I even save contest entries (print them all out)just in case I screw up someone's email address and my newsletter list disappears...can't have that happening!
I've got a file cabinet full of stuff, and am thinking of getting another. I print off all important stuff from my publisher!

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