Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Backing Up Is Hard To Do

Today I began to work on the projects relating to backing up my files on both the laptop and PC. I got so focused on this, I almost forgot to write today's post. I think this one will be brief and mostly about this issue since I'd like to get back to what I was doing.

I decided to start with my saved AOL mail files on both computers. When I have access to the PC at night, I will work at retrieving my AOL correspondence off of it. My AOL mail, my folder of photos, my folders of web pages saved to read offline or for research projects, and my folder of downloaded ebooks are the only things left on the PC that matter to me. Of course all my text and HTML documents and some graphics files related to them from the work I did on the PC between January 1 of 2004 and September 20 between midnight and 5am are still on the PC also. But those are the files that I copied onto a CD the morning I was catching the bus to Longview, Washington to join my family in my Dad's final days.

That same afternoon, my brother helped me shop for my laptop in the Portland area and sometime before dawn on the 21st those files were copied onto my new laptop. I stuck that CD into the disk drive again last night after posting to see if I could discover how much room had been on it and how much room was left. I discovered that my files had taken up half the space on it back then. Thus, after another 19 months of growth I doubted there was room for an updated copy of it. And that says nothing about the new folders of pictures, ebooks, web pages and databases that I have on the laptop now.

I had only two more empty CD and wasn't sure the three of them combined was going to be enough room. Then this evening while I was looking for something else, I discovered blank DVD R, recordable and rewritable that I had picked up at a liquidation story while I was in Longview that fall. I had asked my husband to find out if they were compatible with my laptop after I got back to Phoenix and somehow the got set aside and forgotten about. He said tonight he was fairly sure they were and that their age should not be an issue. They are intended for recording two hour movies and hold 4.7GB But it says on their case that they will take any electronic data.

I worry that they were at the liquidation store for a reason and thus might not be dependable. My husband says that all I can do is try. If it doesn't work then we will know and will have to get something that will. Meanwhile there is significant chore ahead for me to just scope out my files on both computers to remind myself what there is and to get the files I want to back up moved or copied into a single folder to make burning the CD or DVD easier.

One of the biggest chores of all involves the AOL email exchanges on both computers. I saved both the to and the from exchanges of most personal email. The reason it is so important to me is that these exchanges were taking place during my Dad's last year and a half and the year following his death. There is a lot of material there I don't want to loose. We are no longer using AOL and my husband has been after me to rescue those email for months so he can get the programs off both computers. They are hogs. The only way to access them is with the AOL program. I have two ways to save the ones I want to keep. They both involve opening each email one by one. Then I can either save them one at a time via the 'file save as' command which will save them as HTML and thus they will open in the browser of my choice, or copy the text of the email and paste it into Wordpad.

I tried the former for a few of them but I think I prefer the other way and instead of creating a seperate file for each email I am saving 'conversations' or exchanges between me and one other into a single file in the order they took place. This is tedious which I knew it would be and thus one of the things causing me to balk at this chore. Since the AOL mail thing was linked in my mind to the backing up of my files issue, it became a major stumbling block because every time I started to think about I got anxious.

And it wasn't only the tediousness and the size of the chore. It was also the expectation that it was going to be emotionally nerve-wracking as well. It is hard to do this copy/paste procedure without at least glancing at the content of them. It was a very difficult year in my life as it comprised both the high of my renewed commitment to my writing and the lows of know it was the last months of my Dad's life and my family was nearly 500 miles away.

See, I had made the commitment to my writing between Christmas and New Year's Eve of 2003 at the time my in-law's bought the new Windows XP computer. I'd had a week to work up my hope and ambition to a fever pitch and then on January 2 I received the call from my parents with the news of Dad's diagnosis. This was the kind of event that had in the past caused me to do an emotional tailspin. I managed to stay resolved not to let that happen again. I had been on a two year hiatus from writing after loosing all my files and notes and personal library when we were unable to keep up payments on our storage shed in 2001. That wasn't the first time that had happened, though previously it had been the apartment my husband abandoned in Medford while I was out of town in 1987.

You would think I had had enough experiences with loosing my work to want to be more pro-active about protecting it. Well, wanting to wasn't really the problem. I need to be able to vividly imagine the exact steps I need to take to do the thing I am wanting to do. I was unfamiliar with too many of the steps involved here because I was unfamiliar with the newer technology on the PC and Laptop. Flash drives and writable CD and DVD seem more complicated than the old floppy disks. I knew how to use those. I was comfortable with them. And I will be comfortable with the new way as soon as I set about learning how to use it.

Well, back to the grind. I want to see how far I can get with the email on the PC this session. The reason I have to do this with both computers is that I was unaware that saving email to my laptop before the email on the PC was moved over to it, meant that using AOL's synchronizing method would force me to choose which of the two to overwrite. By the time I learned this, I had been saving to my laptop for over two months. The months I was with my family in Longview and corresponding with my husband in Phoenix. I didn't want to loose either.

One of my goals as I set about backing up everything on both computers is to keep current backups of everything on the PC. The laptop has been my primary workstation for 19 months now but I could have been a lot more relaxed through the recent malware attack if I had known my files were safe.

So much for brief.

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