Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Are you prepared for an emergency?

Last week, I had the worst emergency a writer can have... my computer had the beginnings of what looked to be a massive problem. Yikes. I had a wonderful evening out planned- me, my laptop, and a latte. With a deadline looming, I needed that night out. Hubby made a small adjustment to my computer and said it would be fine. Until I opened my computer and realized the problem was worse. Because my computer is less than a year old, I took it to the store where I bought it, hoping it was covered under warranty. Basically, the guy said they wouldn't know until they took my computer apart, and the specific issue had a 50% chance of being covered. If it wasn't covered, I would have pay basically the equivalent of a new computer to have it fixed. And it would take two weeks. Um, no thank you. Fortunately, hubby is good at computer stuff, and since it was better to void the warranty by taking the computer apart than to not have a working computer, he took it apart, found the issue, and fixed it. YAY!!

But here's the lesson in all of that. As inconvenient as it is for me to have computer issues, I know that I am covered no matter what. This is my third laptop. One laptop death was so catastrophic that I couldn't access my data to save it. I've never bought myself a computer because I just wanted a new one. I've always had to replace something that wasn't working properly. Even though I'm never excited about the expense of buying a new computer and I hate having to learn a new machine, a dead computer is never devastating to me. Why? Because I am prepared.

The data on your computer is the most important thing on it, and as long as you've got that protected, everything will be fine. Here's how I keep my data safe.

1. Firewall/antivirus/etc. Make sure you have one. I've been online for about twenty years, and in that time, I have only ever had one virus. And that virus was maliciously sent to me by a former friend under the guise of  "let's make up," but really, she wanted to hurt me by destroying my computer. Seriously. Other than that, I've never had a virus. I don't click on suspicious links (if it looks too good to be true, it probably is), I don't open attachments from people I don't know, and I have precautions in place to keep my computer safe. My kids get viruses on their computers all the time. Why? Because they click on links that look cool, but aren't safe. Especially on game sites. And no matter how many times we tell them, they don't listen. Therefore, they do not get to touch Mommy's computer.

2. Backups. Yes, please!! I've only had one devastating loss of data, and that was because I relied on a backup system that relied on me remembering to hit the backup button. External backups are great, and I have nothing against them, but they fail. I've had it happen, and it stinks. I personally use Mozy, which is a cloud backup system. My last computer replacement was completely effortless, because all I had to do was log on to Mozy with my new computer, hit a button, and it downloaded all of my files to the new computer. A good thing because my old computer would not even boot up. I lost nothing in that transition, and everything was exactly where I'd put it. It was just like logging on to my old computer (except it was a different machine).

3. What to back up? EVERYTHING!!! Seriously. I know it sounds like I'm a data hoarder, but I'm learning that you end up needing the most innocuous things at weird times. For a while, I only paid for the plan that backed up my most important data, but when I had to change to a new computer, I realized that some of the files I thought I didn't need were actually important to running a lot of my programs. Restoring them was a pain, so unless you're a computer expert who knows what you won't need, it's worth the extra money to back it up. I just upgraded my plan because I'm close to exceeding my data, and it cost me an extra $20 a year to get that extra space. SO worth it!

4. Extra piece of mind. Over the past few years I've started using Dropbox more and more. I know some people use it exclusively for backups, but personally, I'm not comfortable with that, for a lot of reasons I won't go into here, BUT, I absolutely love it for multiple device use and being mobile. All of my pictures from my phone and tablet automatically get saved to Dropbox, and I love that. Also, all of my work files are in Dropbox so that multiple team members can work on a file. Love that, too. But one of the best tricks that my friend Camy Tang taught me is that I also have a copy of my current book on Dropbox so that if I'm stuck somewhere waiting for my kids, I can pull out my tablet or phone and work on my book. So Dropbox has been great for when my computer is temporarily unavailable.

5. Passwords. Wow. I have spent hours going back and forth on this, mostly because this is a weak area for me, but also because I don't like a lot of the solutions out there. So I'm not going to tell you the solution, but I am going to tell you this: make sure you have them someplace where you can retrieve them easily. All of my backups need passwords to access. I use passwords daily for my work. I think I have about a hundred different places where I need a password, so it's vital to have them someplace easy to look up. Also consider this: if something happened to you tomorrow, would your loved ones be able to retrieve important data you have stored on your computer? My husband knows my major ones, and I know his, but it just occurred to me that he probably needs to know where I have all of them.

The happy ending to my story is that my computer is fixed, YAY!!! This little crisis was a good reminder for me to make sure I had everything in order. And, in the case of passwords, a reminder that I still have a little work left to do. So take the time today to evaluate what you need to do to protect yourself in case of computer emergency. Computers don't break down on schedule, but when you least expect it!

About Danica:

A self-professed crazy chicken lady, Danica Favorite loves the adventure of living a creative life. She and her family recently moved in to their dream home in the mountains above Denver, Colorado.  Danica loves to explore the depths of human nature and follow people on the journey to happily ever after. Though the journey is often bumpy, those bumps are what refine imperfect characters as they live the life God created them for. Oops, that just spoiled the ending of all of Danica’s stories. Then again, getting there is all the fun.
You can connect with Danica at the following places:


  1. Great info, Danica, thanks for sharing.

    I'm constanting emailing my manuscript to myself.

    I've gotten so used to losing old manuscripts (still have floppys).


  2. Danica, thanks so much for putting this together. Last year I went through something similar in that my laptop died. I wasn't able to get it back, but I did have most of the info saved. I lost some. I'm going to follow the steps you outlined. I think it will make the next computer emergency less painful.

    All the best...

    Mary Alford

  3. I'm glad you were able to get hubby to fix it!! If I had to depend on my husband for anything computer related, I'd be out of luck. LOL :)

    Thanks for the reminder about passwords.

  4. You're welcome! I definitely learned some of this the hard way. I can remember when I first signed up for all the backup stuff, thinking it was so expensive, but honestly, it's priceless to have that peace of mind. :)

  5. I'm going to look at Mozy! I use Carbonite (lost 50 pages of a manuscript with a fatal computer crash years ago!!). I like the idea of having all your photos got to Dropbox, too. Thanks, Danica!


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