Computer meltdown: 5 lessons for copywriters

October 4, 2010 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Writing Tools 

copywriter computer crashOver the last couple decades, I’ve suffered through some serious computer incidents. So when Sally Bagshaw told me her computer died, I felt her pain.

But in typical glass-is-half-full fashion, Sally wrote a fantastic post about it. This is a nice sister post to my computer crash recovery plan I wrote about in January.

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I’ve been a bit quiet lately. Work has been busy, my son has been on school holidays, and oh yes my computer died.

It is completely dead.

Won’t even turn on type of dead.

Turns out a software update did something nasty to my hard drive. So nasty that I’ll most likely not be able to recover any files from it.

Don’t you love that? Technology seems to fail at the most inopportune moment.

Now don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those woe-is-me-I’ve-lost-all-my-files posts. I learned that lesson a long time ago so now have thorough back-up systems in place. Even though I lost my hard drive, so far it seems that I haven’t lost any data. But nevertheless, I did learn some useful lessons the past couple of weeks that I’d like to share with you:

1. You work slower on an unfamiliar computer
Luckily I have an old PC that I was able to fire up and use. But it slowed me down. Nothing was familiar, it didn’t have any of my settings or fonts, and was missing most of the software I was used to.

The worst thing was that although I had a copy of most of my files in Dropbox, they were all saved as Word 2007 documents. The old PC I was working on only had Word 2003 (I did say it was old). So I couldn’t open any of my files. I got around this eventually, but it was a nightmare.

Yes, I could write. But it was at a far slower rate than normal.

2. Don’t be afraid to reschedule your commitments
Did I mention that work was busy? It was actually one of the busiest periods I’ve had since becoming a freelance writer.

But I quickly realized I was going to have to reschedule, reshuffle, and reprioritize my workload to make it through. So I did, and saved myself a bucket of stress in the process.

3. Know your passwords
Well that’s obvious isn’t it? Maybe not. Do you keep a list of passwords on your computer? That won’t help at all if your hard drive fails.

I personally keep a little black book of passwords (under lock and key offsite) so that I can log into the multitude of accounts I run.

4. Treat working docs and back-ups differently
This point I hadn’t really considered before. Sure I had a full back-up of all my files, but I didn’t want to do a full install until my computer had a new hard drive. But I really wanted to access my current projects.

Now I keep all my current working docs in Dropbox for easy access no matter which computer I’m on.

5. If you can’t fix it, pay someone else to
Time is money, especially when you bill by the hour. Don’t spend valuable time doing Google searches looking for solutions if you can pay a professional to do it. After all, that’s the advice we give our clients isn’t it?

What’s your best computer disaster recover tip?

Sally Bagshaw is a Brisbane copywriter who now relies much more on online back-up services.

Related posts:

  1. The world’s simplest computer crash recovery plan

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Smart Comments

4 Comments on Computer meltdown: 5 lessons for copywriters

  1. Eddie Gear on Oct 4th, 2010 10:13 pm
  2. Very basics points for everyone not just copyrighters. But very true fact that we need to remember to improve productivity. Thanks for sharing Sally. I hope this reaches several people so that they can improve their productivity as well.

  3. Andrew B. on Oct 5th, 2010 10:10 am
  4. I’m excited to see the growing trend toward cloud-based computing. In some ways, it seems the days of desktop-based applications and local storage may be coming to an end. I do a lot of my writing now using Google Docs — I don’t have to buy any software, I don’t have to worry about backups, and I can work wherever there’s a computer. No more thumb drives and CDs! Hooray!

  5. Sally Bagshaw on Oct 12th, 2010 9:41 pm
  6. Thanks Eddie and Andrew. It was definitely a learning experience for me.

    I guess the only downside of cloud-based computing is the reliance on an internet connection (though you can work offline with most of them too.) It’s definitely a changing landscape.

  7. C.A. on Apr 20th, 2012 11:33 pm
  8. I’m no copywriter but I sympathize all the same as an animator. Laptop died and has thrown a complete curveball in my schedule. I only have access to my 2001 Compaq and it crashes like crazy. :-[ Crappy week this has been, I’m just glad I haven’t lost any subs.