I have a story to tell that is a cautionary tale with something in it for everyone.
I live a pretty busy lifestyle. To help me keep up and stay organized, I carry all my computer files around with me on a flash drive that is attached to my key ring. Where those keys go, so goes Bernie. That way I have what I need if I am at work or at home. The documents that I am working on are literally in my hip pocket and I can grab whatever computer is at hand and continue to do what I need to do.
That flash drive is about 3 years old now. It’s a 4 gig unit so it can hold a lot of data. That’s both good and bad because every article that I have written in the past two years is on that drive. Every PowerPoint project that I have ever done is on there. My weekly/monthly budget spreadsheet is on there. There’s a lot of important data on that thing! Most recently, I have been working on two presentations given at the University of British Columbia. Those were on there to.
I was working on my office computer a few weeks ago. I finished up and hit the save button to back up my work onto the flash drive. Instead of the usual response from the computer, I got some funny message about changes to the global template. Huh? What’s that about?
I did what I needed to do and finished up knowing that I had to move on to whatever was next. I ejected the flash drive, put it in my pocket, and off I went.
The really bad news was that the next time I inserted that drive into my laptop, one of my presentations for UBC was gone. I panicked. But then stopped and got ahold of both myself as well as my computer buddy, Larry.
Larry’s an interesting guy. He’s retired and very much a computer lover…dare I say geek. He knows how to both talk to computers and to physically tear them apart and fix them. Larry has what has got to be, the biggest darn computer I have ever seen. In this age of microelectronics, his newest office computer is huge. I have suitcases smaller than this thing! And, boy, does Larry know how to make that thing run!
I took my flash drive over to Larry and he played every trick in the book on it but he couldn’t find that file. It had simply fallen off the end of the earth. Now, I’m really in trouble. Its three weeks to UBC and my opening presentation has disappeared.
Larry had two pieces of advice for me. The first was to wish me good luck in recreating that presentation. The second was that flash drives are not a very robust technology and I shouldn’t trust them for the kind of data storage I was using mine for. So, I started backing up to both the computer I was currently working on and to the flash drive.