Sunday, October 19, 2014

The end of life as I know it

Two Fridays ago, my primary computer--a Macintosh G5 that has been a true workhouse ever since I purchased it in May 2005--died. It failed to boot up. I knew I would some day need to upgrade and had purchased an iMac last December with the intent of slowly porting everything over to the new computer. Of course, I'd transferred very little to the iMac.

I took the G5 to Best Buy where a member of the Geek Squad found nothing wrong. My computer booted up every time he tried. He suggested a thorough cleaning--I live in a house with cats and dogs and the inside of the G5 was a dusty, hairy mess--which I did with two cans of compressed air once I returned home.

The G5 worked fine all weekend--a three day weekend, and Columbus Day turned out to be one of my best writing days in several months--but refused to boot up again Tuesday morning.

I had backed up all my writing files as soon as the computer booted up Friday evening but had not backed up anything I had done during the three-day weekend. I had also never backed up all the other files on the G5, which ranged from my accounting software to editing projects for clients to personal photos. I knew then that I had no choice but to port everything over to the iMac if I could ever bring the G5 back to life.

Many hours of sleuthing on the web led me to several possible reasons for my G5's demise and potential solutions to resurrecting it. I brought it back to life--several times, much like using a defibrillator on a heart patient--and have copied from it all, or nearly all, of my important files.

Unfortunately, I have also been forced to upgrade software because what I was using was so old that it would not, or was unlikely to, run on the iMac.

So, in addition to the unplanned expense of purchasing new software, I've also consumed a great deal of time installing, configuring, and attempting to learn how to operate it.

This could have been an absolute disaster. As it is, it's mostly a serious irritation. I have not written anything since last Monday and I've done only a negligible amount of work for one of my key editing clients during this ordeal, which means I'll have to work extra-hard to catch up once I have all my software in order.

The biggest unresolved irritation is that I have found no way to port the contact list from my old email software to my new email software. So, it could be quite some time before I rebuild that list. I may have to wait until people contact me so that I can add them to the list and, thus, continue whatever level of communication we'd had before.

I'm certain there are many lessons to be learned here, especially about the value of regular system backups--an external drive for backing up the iMac is the next purchase on my list--but I'm too close to the action right now to know what they all are.

And maybe soon I can return to work, secure in the knowledge that I've weathered a storm.


Graham Powell said...

FYI, you can get WiFi connected memory sticks for about $50 at Amazon, and use those with backup software as a second copy of your files. Or a cheaper option would be just get a USB-connected external hard drive.

Always remember: hard drives crash eventually. And, pursuant to Sod's Law, only when it's most inconvenient.

Michael Bracken said...

Luckily, my hard drive did not crash, and less than ten minutes ago I plugged an external hard drive into my iMac and turned on Time Machine, the back-up software that's pre-installed on the iMac.

I still haven't resolved all of my other software issues (leaping several generations in one step is quite mind-boggling), but I am making steady progress.