Act Now Before Disaster Strikes

I thought I was prepared for computer disaster.

Boy, was I ever wrong!

I made four deadly computer mistakes I knew to avoid. And I paid the price.

It doesn’t matter what type of copywriting we do, our computers are the very foundations of our careers.

So today, I’m going to vary from my usual topics relating to making your copywriting stronger. I’m going to tell you what I did wrong … and what you can do to protect your livelihood.

I just wish I’d paid better attention to what I’m going to tell you sooner.

Deadly Computer Mistake #1

I thought I’d done what I needed to do to protect my work files. I use an application to backup my daily work to a separate hard drive. I’d used the technology in the past and rested on my belief that it was working fine.

Unfortunately for what was to come, I hadn’t checked it in a long time. I assumed everything was working right.

Not checking my backup files was my first big, dumb, deadly computer mistake.

Deadly Computer Mistake #2

Then, a short while ago, things started going screwy on my Mac. Now Macs “never” get viruses. Well, at least almost never. So I researched anti-virus programs to check out my system.

I found a well-reviewed free anti-virus application that looked quite good. One review even said it was better than paid software. I wasn’t being cheap getting free software. I was convinced my Mac couldn’t have a virus. And if it did, I’d get rid of it … and that would’ve been that.

Almost all the virus software I checked out came with trial versions. At this point, I had the opportunity to try several options. But I was smug about the decision I made.

I downloaded and ran it.

Stupid, deadly computer mistake #2: I was “too busy” to check out other options.

Deadly Computer Mistake #3

The anti-virus program I downloaded was slow. And one of the problems my computer was showing was this annoying habit of turning itself off when idle for an extended period. The software’s search and destroy mission was hampered by this quirky behavior. For some reason, my computer thought it was idle while the software did its thing.

The computer kept shutting down while I ran a scan … and then I’d have to start all over.

I finally was able to get what I thought was a full scan, and everything looked fine. No viruses. That was my ridiculously short-sighted, deadly computer mistake #3. I didn’t trust my gut feeling that things weren’t up to par.

Disaster struck. A fellow Rotarian called and asked me to print out some information for her. No problem. I searched my drive. Found the file she needed. And told her I’d print it for her later.

Later never came!

Learning late … but not too late

When I tried to print the file, it was gone. So were all my Rotary files. And so were many of my work files.

Fortunately, the main AWAI work I was doing — a revamp of the COS classes — was safe. Not because of something I’d done on purpose. I’d moved them to a DropBox folder, so I could collaborate with Denise Ford more easily. Those files were “on the cloud” … intact and safe.

I copied as many of my work files to DropBox and to an extra drive. I researched other anti-virus software and chose three others.

The first one I ran found a virus that it stamped out. I subsequently tried the other two pieces of software, and they found nothing.

While I’m not absolutely sure, I think that virus caused all the havoc that befell me.

Protect yourself by learning from my mistakes

I hope I learned my lesson …

 … and I hope you can learn from my deadly computer mistakes.

I don’t care how busy I am. I’m going to take care of this crucial asset of my career. Here’s what I’m now doing (and wish I’d done before). And I suggest you do these things to protect your career.

  • Use trustworthy anti-virus software. I purchased the software that cleaned my Mac and have it set for regular scans. I also have it set to scan any drives I mount like flash drives.

    But I also purchased another highly rated software. Now I scan my system every three days using different software. Overkill? I don’t think so.

    And, I make sure the virus definitions are updated.

  • Don’t blindly trust your backup software. You do back up your files regularly, don’t you? If not, start now!

    Investigate reliable backup strategies for your computer system (Windows, Mac, Unix).

    I use a system built into my computer that’s supposed to backup my files to an external drive several times a day. That’s what failed me this last time because I depended on being able to restore my system if problems popped up. Now I check my backup system twice a day — first thing in the morning and shortly before shutting down.

  • It’s time to trust “the cloud.” I no longer depend on that one external drive to backup my files. I use what are now known as cloud services for redundant backups.

    There are a number of well-reviewed systems available for free with between 2 and 15 gigs of storage. All have the option of upgrading for more storage. The two I use most are DropBox and Copy. I’m not recommending any particular service. But I urge you to do a search on “cloud storage” on the Internet. Investigate reviews and choose at least one to be your redundant backup haven.

Deadly Mistake #4

My biggest deadly mistake is what caused the other three. I allowed myself to be lulled into a sense of safety and security because everything had always worked fine.

Do not let that happen to you. Here’s my new computer mantra:

Just because everything is working fine right now
doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t bring disaster.

Good luck and safe computing!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: August 17, 2015

4 Responses to “Act Now Before Disaster Strikes”

  1. Good day! I enjoyed your article. I've been there, done that. In fact, I wrote a book on how to keep home computers secure. It has a Windows focus, but the concepts apply. It also discussed backup options.

    Just sharing this because it may be of value.
    Richard Lowe

    Richard Lowe Jr

  2. Dropbox is a great service. I have most of my documents and other data stored in Dropbox, which makes it easy to use on either my desktop or laptop. Dropbox also has versioning, which means that even if you save over a file with a bad version, you can easily recover previous versions of the file.

    The documents that are not stored in Dropbox are in Google Docs, so they are already in the cloud.

    I would be interested to know which Mac antivirus programs you settled on.


  3. Definitely something to give some serious thought to. I'm not a computer whiz by a long shot, but when I think about hundreds of hours of research and written materials disappearing, I feel a certain green bile collecting in the nether regions...! The 'cloud' sounds like what we all need. Great topic! :-)


  4. Hi Will, Don't misunderstand, but I do take comfort in fact that I am not the only one who has computer-related problems. It sounds as if you have just occasional problems. I recently lost an entire day due to printer problems. (This prohibited me from using my laptop). Sometimes I ask myself if someone like myself who is so inept with the technology has any business in this business. I appreciate your tips for avoiding problems and will be sure to print this article, that is if my printer...

    Nora King

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