Saturday, October 15, 2011

Halloween Came Early This Year

Yesterday, as I was working my way through three days of accumulated blog posts, I came across a very funny short piece about what truly scares that blogger. She said (I think it was a she) that if she met a zombie or a vampire, she would simply request genealogical knowledge and move on. What truly scares her is something like opening her genealogy files and finding that all her citations have vanished. I laughed, agreed with her, and read the next blog.

And I humbly apologize to my fellow blogger that I cannot provide a link to that blog. If any of my readers recognizes this blog, please post the link in the comments section.

Well, Halloween came early this year and I have had a scare that will do — thank you — for the rest of my life! I was running the program that scans my hard disk for potential problems and got a message about duplicates of my genealogy software file, followed immediately by a message that the software had unexpectedly quit. Since I was shutting things down, I brushed this off and continued with the weekly maintenance.

Everything checked out OK, and I began to reopen programs in order to get back to work. The file was GONE from my desktop Dropbox folder. Worse, opening Dropbox online I found a statement that the file was DELETED! No problem — I'll just go to Time Machine and restore it from there. It wasn't there either! I went into complete panic mode; 3377 names and accompanying data had vanished into thin air. Gone — completely gone!

I must have yelled or moaned or … because my husband hurried in — to find me staring wildly at my computer screen. I showed him the "non-existence" of both backups and than stared at the appearance of doom again.

Now my husband and I have somehow developed a mood balancing act; the deeper one of us sinks into panic, the calmer and more constructive the other becomes. He thought a bit and began to suggest things to try. Fearing that my entire hard disk was contaminated, I wouldn't let him do anything.

He moved to his computer, opened Dropbox, and sure enough, it reported that the file had been deleted. But he also found that Dropbox offered "restore file." Which he did. Back to my machine. Dropbox showed the recovered file in the cloud AND it also showed the file safely returned to my desktop dropbox folder. I opened the file, which then followed to usual procedures to return me to my last working location. I did the next job of data entry, and everything stayed normal. Dropbox and cloud storage had saved my files just as they were supposed to do.

But what about the failure of Time Machine to make a backup? Well, as it turns out, I was wrong about that; Time Machine has been backing up these vital files just as I had instructed it to do. In my panic, I had looked for the backups in the wrong folder. When I did look in the correct location, everything was in place.

And the moral of this story is "you can't have too many backups" OR "Dropbox works." I hope you never have a scare like mine; but if you do, I hope your files have been backed up on your computer by your equivalent of my Time Machine backup program and that you also have a backup in Dropbox or an equivalent cloud storage site.

Here's to facing our Frustrations and enjoying our successes.



  1. I learned the hard way. Not long after having my daughter, my hard drive crashed, taking with it every picture I had from my pregnancy and of her from birth to that point. Even though I was able to get most of the pictures back (thankfully I had emailed nearly all of them to family and friends), there are some that are gone forever.

    I'm now a fanatic about backing up important files. I burn my pictures and genealogy files to a disc and give copies to family members at regular intervals. I also have them automatically back up to two separate online storage places.

  2. About ten years ago my computer crashed. I had no backups but fortunately the technician was able to transfer some data onto CDs for the new computer. This cost big bucks. I've backed up several ways religiously since then, but I've never backed up to the cloud. Dropbox sounds perfect.