Today I wrapped up my first class in my Masters program. It’s been doozy and I have a lot of work to do before the final, but completing the first semester has been a weight off my shoulders.
I noticed about half way through the lecture today that the student I share a table with suddenly became distracted during class. Something just wasn’t right. After the class wrapped she looked at me in a panic and asked, “Do you know anything about computers?”
Turns out her laptop (a Toshiba that looked to be a few years old) stopped charging during class and the battery was running down fast. My friend wasn’t very computer savvy and all she could see was a ticking bomb that was counting down until the battery was drained, the screen would go black, and all her notes was trapped inside. Here we were, last class of the year, getting ready to break for Thanksgiving and she was faced with the prospect of losing it all because, of course, she hadn’t made any backups.
We spent a few minutes troubleshooting the power problem. Checked the plug, checked the outlet but it looked as though there was some kind of problem with the computer itself. She was heading across campus to the school's technology help desk have it checked out. I told her the most critical thing was getting her notes off the computer right then and there because we didn't know when the battery was going to die. She agreed.
I keep a flash drive on my keychain for emergencies just as this. Because her class notes were kept in a few Word documents on her desktop making a quick copy was easy. She also emailed the most important documents to herself. Within a few minutes the immediate panic had passed so we took a few moments to sign her up for a free Dropbox account and I explained the importance of in the future, rather than saving her notes to the desktop, saving all her school work to her Dropbox folder would at least sync those documents to the cloud when she was connected to the Internet A free account will get you 2GB which isn’t much these days, but it’s enough to store your mission critical documents. Finally, I introduced her to Backblaze for backing up her entire computer once she got her hardware problem sorted out.
When I left her this morning the hardware problem wasn’t solved, but in less than 10 minutes we managed to backup her last four months worth of work and give her a lot of peace of mind as she was heading home for the holiday.
As “power users” we generally have our backup under control and don't really need to think about it. That's a good thing. But today I was reminded of just how many people are out there with no backups and are just one problem away from a catastrophe.
Why don’t you reach out to one of your less tech-savvy friends this weekend and see if you can help them with that?