Preparing for a Computer Crash

After a 3-day weekend in Washington, D.C., attending my daughter’s college graduation, I sat down at my computer on Monday morning to get caught up and give my week a good start.

The universe had other plans.

Within minutes, I had upended a full cup of water onto the floor, right where my computer sits. Amazingly, the computer was still working. But some of the water had gone into the fan slots at the top. So I shut down the computer, unplugged it, and proceeded to mop up the water, which was in a big puddle on the floor.

I decided to turn the computer over so that the water could drain out of the fan slots. Once everything was mopped up, I righted the computer and booted it up. No dice.

I’m writing this from my iPad, as my computer is now half a mile away at a company called My Computer Tech, waiting for a new power supply and motherboard.

I’m annoyed at myself for being so clumsy, and frustrated at not having my computer available to get my work done. But luckily I am able to continue much of my work due to some smart decisions I made in the past. I’m listing them here in the hope that you can be similarly prepared if and when computer disaster strikes you.

I have a keyboard for my iPad. When Apple came out with the iPad keyboard that is built into the iPad cover, I bought one to make it easier for me to use my iPad when I travel, since I don’t have a laptop. My iPad is now set up on my desk like a little computer.

My iPad bookmarks are aligned with my computer bookmarks. When I got this iPad a few years ago, I set up the internet “favorites” to match the bookmarks bar in the default browser on my computer. That allows me to access the sites I visit frequently but whose URLs I wouldn’t remember.

My files are backed up. I have a two-pronged approach to backup. First, I use Carbonite, which continually copies my files to the cloud as they are updated. Second, I have an external drive that is connected to my computer and does a periodic backup. The external drive isn’t much help to me without a computer, but I have been able to log on to Carbonite from my iPad and download important files that I need in order to keep working.

I can access my passwords. I keep my passwords in a password-protected Excel file which I have been able to open via Carbonite.

I have a great computer guy. When disaster struck, I reached out to my computer guy who gave me advice on how to open my computer and dry it out. When it still didn’t work the next day, he came over to take a look to see if it was an easily solvable problem or if I needed to take it somewhere. One of the most valuable things he did was to remove my hard drive and connect it to my daughter’s computer to make sure it was still good, which it was. So I am comforted to know that once my computer is fixed, all of my programs and data will still be there.

Are you set up to keep your life going if your computer crashes? Other than making sure my files were backed up, I didn’t take most of these steps to prepare for a computer crash. But they have proved invaluable in tolerating the inconvenience of being without my computer for an extended period of time.

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