Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Strange Liberation of Loss

After a long, hard week I got home last Friday expecting to have a couple of nice restful days. My game had been cancelled, so I had two full days 'off', during which I was all set to do some light preparation for my Eberron campaign, do a bit of reading, watch some TV, and generally laze around.

Immediately on arriving home, I switched on my PC, then went to make a cup of coffee while it started up. My PC is getting old - it takes several minutes to warm up. I'm sure it didn't used to be so slow.

Anyway, when I came back, I was faced with the horror of a "Windows Failed to Start" message, followed by a cryptic error number.

There then followed a couple of days of messing around, the full horror of which I won't go into. Eventually, I found that the solution was an easy fix - just a bios setting to change. Unfortunately, the setting in question was in a hidden menu that I simply could not access. And so came the ultimate indignity: I had to take it back to PC World for repair!

I eventually got the PC back on Monday, having had the hard disk blanked and the system restored to factory settings. A nice clean slate to work with from here. Since then, I have been busily re-installing software, rebuilding my data, and generally wasting lots of time getting the system working again.

For the past year or so, I kept saying to myself, "I really must get one of those big external drives, and set up automatic backups. It sure would suck if my PC died and I lost all the data I've spent years building up." I kept saying that, and saying that...

About three months ago, I finally bought one of those big external drives, and set up automatic backups. This proved exceptionally fortuitous, as I was thus able to restore all my documents and files after getting the PC back. Huzzah! (And also: bloody hell, that was lucky!)

There's just one minor problem: it seems the the automated backup system does not include email. So, all the emails I have stored since forever (back to my first PC in 1994!) and all of my email contact details, and all of that stuff, is all gone!

I expected to by much more dismayed about this that I actually am. The thing is, while it sucks to lose data, and especially to lose it when I thought it was safely backed up, it's also true that I hadn't looked at most of those emails in years. Indeed, I had folders entitled "From 2007", "From 2008" and "Older" into which I just threw the appropriate emails and forgot about them. So, in many ways, it's a relief to be free of that junk. I wasn't using it, so I haven't really lost anything.

The one thing I did lose was the license key to a particular piece of software I have used only occasionally (but, like much occasional-use software, when I wanted to use it, I really wanted to use it). Even here, though, there's no great problem - they have been able to regenerate and resend the key.

Plus: now my PC is more up-to-date even than it was before the problem hit, and doesn't have quite so much lingering "junk software" lying around. So, really, it might not be the worst thing that has ever happened. Maybe.

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