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Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website,

When was the last time you backed up?

Categories: Business Essentials, Uncategorized



I am still reeling from a complete and total computer crash (MacBook) that happened mid-day yesterday, and I’m not sure when it will really sink in or when I will recover emotionally from the ordeal.

Before you read on, I want to know this: When was the last time you backed up your computer?

If you had asked me a few days ago, my answer would have been “Oh, I haven’t backed up since I bought my new computer last year,” and then I’d add “I’ve been using Macs for nearly 15 years and have never had a problem.”

Well, folks, yesterday I had a problem. And it was a doozy.

I ended up crying in the middle of the new Mac store in town. My tears were not for the hundreds of work-related documents. My tears were for the thousands of photos and hundreds of videos of my baby girl who turned 2 last week.

“Do you want me to sugar coat is or do you want it straight?” asked the Mac store owner (MacHaus in Anchorage).

“Straight,” I said, bracing myself as I felt a wave of fear rush through my body.

“Your hard drive is dying back there,” he said gesturing to the space behind a wall of boxes where the Mac guys work their magic.

“My computer is my life,” I said, choking back a sob.

He began listing my options which sounded like the teacher in The Peanuts to my panic-addled brain. Wah wah wah wah, wah wah. Wah wah.

“I haven’t backed up for a year,” I said meekly.

His eyes went saucer-wide then resumed their kind and understanding look. I was grateful that there wasn’t any judgment in his gaze. I was already doing a full-body mental pummeling for my sheer arrogance in opting not to back up my computer.

The essence of my options were:

1. Send the dead drive to Apple and get a new one because I had Apple Care.

2. Send the dead one to a data retrieval company to try to retrieve data then continue with Option #1.

3. Buy a new drive immediately to replace the dead one and send the dead one to the data retrieval company for assessment.

4. Buy a new computer and decided whether or not to go with data retrieval company.

I called my husband and gave him the options.

“You just have to go for it,” he said. “Your computer is your life.”

I went for Door #4. I was able to buy a black MacBook which was an upgrade from the one I had (going from a 120GB hard drive to a 250 GB one).

And I purchased a Time Capsule - a combo wifi and data storage device (500 GB) that automatically backs up my computer every hour on the hour when I’m connected to my home wifi network. I needed the simplest, no-brainer, no-action required on my part way to back up my computer because frankly, my reasons for not backing up have been:

1. I don’t have time to figure that out.

2. I don’t want to mess with connecting and disconnecting the hard drive I bought last year as a back up drive to my laptop.

3. I don’t want to be without my laptop while it is backing up.

4. I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to think about it right now.

Excuses #3 and #4 have also been the excuses why I never backed up my iTunes every time it prompted me to do so and didn’t upload the last month’s worth of fantastic photos and videos of my baby girl. I started to do it several times but just kept putting it off and putting it off.

The irony of this entire ordeal is that two days prior, I went to the new Mac store to offer to do some marketing for them and in the process, succumbed to an impulse buy of Mac’s new Leopard OS and upgrading my RAM from two 512 MB sticks to two 1 GB sticks.

I was psyched not only to have better performance but my next step was to learn how to easily back up my computer using Leopard’s Time Machine with my Rocstore external hard drive.

Two days later - the entire computer DIES. Before I have backed it up with my new OS features.

Before I finish my tale of woe, I want to ask you again: When was the last time you backed up your computer?

I’m almost hoping that you stopped reading this post already and are backing it up now - or rushing to your computer store or calling your computer expert to have them set you up with the ideal backup system for you.

I am back up and running with my new black MacBook that has already been backing up all morning while I was still at home (although there is nothing to back up at the moment except the copy of Firefox 3.0 and Second Life software that I downloaded last night).

Right now, I am so grateful that I have been amping up my usage of Google Docs. Much of my most current work is up there and fully accessible to me, my colleagues and my clients. I’m afraid to think too hard about what is missing, but here are a few things I know for sure are gone right now:

1. Most of the photos and videos of my baby girl and husband from last 10 months. I’ve taken at least one photo of her every day of her life. Luckily I had put some up each month on my Flickr account and even some on - probably about 20% of all the images on my computer.

2. All my iTunes purchases - music, podcasts (luckily those are free), and the 20+ kids TV shows I just downloaded this past weekend for my daughter.

3. All the snapshots I have taken from the last 15 months that I’ve been working in Second Life. I take photos of all the events I attend, people I meet and things I create in the virtual world and unless I have already blogged them, they are all gone.

4. Transcripts from all of the events I was holding weekly in Second Life
with experts that I hadn’t had time to upload to blogs.

5. Manuscripts for my last 3 books - although I am going to check Gmail to see if at least 2 of them are in my Sent box since I have never deleted anything from there since I started using it.

6. My most recent book proposal - I can at least locate the first version on Gmail in my Sent box and start the rewrite from scratch. Was about to start shopping it around.

7. My company’s electronic check register - but I can get one from my bookkeeper and she and I can rebuild the most recent purchases from my banking records online.

8. Archival files for client work - but luckily most of my recent client work has been social media marketing and virtual world marketing so much of it is online, in emails and traceable.

9. Proposals and contracts for past and upcoming clients. I had 4 new proposals almost completed to send to new potential clients so will have to start those again from scratch.

10. All drafts of articles, essays and stories I’ve worked on. Luckily, all articles that I turned into editors should be in my Gmail Sent box. But the stories and essays are…gone for now.

Eventually, I will have to decide if I’m going to pay $1500+ for data retrieval if it is even possible.

Right now, I’m still in a daze.

NOTE: I also blogged about this topic from a more “business” angle at Web Worker Daily.

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12 comments so far...

  • [...] I also blogged about the more “personal” side of this topic at Entrepreneur Mom on [...]

    Web Worker Daily » Archive The Day a Bullet Got Through “Bullet-Proof” «  |  July 1st, 2008 at 3:00 pm

  • Oooouuuufff. I think I felt that one in my gut. Running off to archive now…

    Lylah  |  July 1st, 2008 at 3:24 pm

  • [...] And this one: When Was the Last Time You Backed Up [...]

    Feedwire · Data Continuity  |  July 1st, 2008 at 3:45 pm

  • Extremely sorry to hear about your loss, especially the sentimental items that were on your laptop.

    I had the same thing happen recently at work and wanted to suggest that you might want to contact Eco Data Recovery in Florida for your drive retrieval. Have used them before and they are quick, extremely professional and comparable in price to any other service out there. Good luck.

    Mark  |  July 1st, 2008 at 4:12 pm

  • Years (decades?) ago I was one of the few people at my college that had a computer. I did everything on there, including all my school work as well as short stories. A year or so after I graduated I came home from work and turned on my computer only to have it beep at me and say “No Operating System Found”. I tried again and again, but nothing worked (and really, is powering a system on and off a good fixit technique?). Four (and a half) years of memories, of work were gone. I never recovered fully from that crash, losing all those years.

    I sympathize.


    Benjamin  |  July 1st, 2008 at 4:50 pm

  • Hi Aliza. So sorry to hear about your computer woes. That is just *terrible* and I SO sympathize. I actually read this a few days ago, but had to come back and leave a message of moral support. :) It’s been years ago, but it did happen to me once and I lay awake half the night bawling my eyes out. Good luck - hope you can maybe recover more stuff.

    Diane  |  July 8th, 2008 at 1:58 am

  • [...] When was the last time you backed up? [...]

    Life in the Clouds |  |  August 1st, 2008 at 2:03 am

  • Oh, how sorry I am your Mac failed you. I spent 4 hours this weekend backing up everything after reading of your crash. Granted, I don’t have a lot of stuff about 1600 photos, a few videos, text files and a couple of thousand songs in iTunes. And I know better as you did even though it is a Mac, backup, backup, backup.
    Since you said you are interested things related to toddlers, especially daughters, I am a mom of three daughters albeit older and I have one granddaugther. I found your blog because I have been reading mommy blogs for a few weeks. My intent - I have a children’s DVD about horses. Since you are interested in little girl things you may want to visit my website
    I hope I have taken the correct steps in first perusing your web site and online clips.
    Good luck with your new computer.

    Cherie  |  August 5th, 2008 at 2:59 am

  • Who would have thought??? I used to back up all my data everyday on my little stick-I even had it on my key chain so I wouldn’t forget-but as the years have gone by-so has my diligence.
    My computer crashed on 8/15/08 with everything on it-Quickbooks, customer data, logos, pictures, templates for everything! I never would have thought it could happen to me!
    Everyone go out and buy a backup system to run every night !Good luck with your recovery! I am working on mine!
    Happy days,
    Kelly Martin, owner of Kristeens
    -a boutique jeweler-

    Kelly Martin  |  August 19th, 2008 at 12:43 am

  • Oh no, Kelly! I was reading your comment and thought it was from my girlfriend here in town who just lost EVERYTHING to a computer virus - something I hadn’t even mentioned here. She is still in a state of shock. 2 years of client documents gone. Luckily, she backed her Quickbooks up on a jump drive a few days before the virus. But that is ALL she backed up.

    I’m still very very happy with my Time Capsule and Apple’s Time Machine software. Every time I’m home, it backs me up behind-the-scenes every hour. I can continue working and don’t have to do anything special except turn on my computer and use it to work.

    Trying to convince my girlfriend to get a Mac!

    Aliza  |  August 19th, 2008 at 12:59 am

  • [...] Google Docs I’ve blogged about my big computer crash and also about working in the clouds or “cloud computing” which is the popular trend of [...]

    12 Software and Apps I Use Every Day for My Business - Entrepreneur Mom - Work It, Mom!  |  August 19th, 2008 at 11:50 pm

  • Aliza,

    One of my business partners, wrote on this very subject last week. She had a major hard drive crash as well and it took her about two days to get back up and going. She lost a great deal of business files that took years to build. Yes, I have been guilty as charged and haven’t backed up since I bought my computer two years ago. Guess what? I backed up for the first time this weekend. :0)

    BELIEVE Success!

    Lisa Willard

    Lisa Willard  |  September 1st, 2008 at 6:13 pm