We’ve experienced our share of nasty computer issues this past year; recovery was slow and expensive – money I could ill afford. But given that I make my way through life tap-tapping on a keyboard, and my kid needed to finish out his high school years tap-tapping as well, costly or not, fixing and replacing technology was required.

Of course, when disaster strikes (large or small), everything is simpler – if you have backups.

* * *

I just woke my son and though I’ve been up for hours he’s only been asleep a short time. There he was, again, as is now his habit: lights on, laptop open, papers scattered, out cold on the couch.

I brewed my coffee and spoke to him a second time and then a third when he sat up and said “Okay.” He still has to finish one of the last tasks of the weekend though it’s Monday morning: recreating a long research paper that was lost, days ago, because there was no backup.

I remind him regularly to save his work, and usually he does. Especially after last Spring’s data debacle, I harp on the need to plan for contingencies – generally, in life, and specifically when it comes to technology.

* * *

Last Thursday I was humming along having finally achieved momentum on some tricky tasks of my own. The writing was involved and required more than half a dozen files and windows open simultaneously. In fact, I was enjoying a burst of orchestrated multitasking and advancing well, and then my laptop shut down. Zip, boom, crash, only it wasn’t a crash exactly – and though the computer restarted a few minutes later, every document I had open was broken.

I sat stunned and then remembered I had backups.

I whipped out my flash drive, inserted it into my machine – only to find that while the substance was there, hours of critical formatting was not. Even with backups, some systems fail.

* * *

I’ve loosened the apron strings where my son is concerned in recent months. And tightened them again when I saw the need, and let loose again. The more responsible he is, the more slack he gets.

Friday night the weary kid says he wants to go out Saturday, and again Sunday. I give him “the look,” and then I stop. He’s been working terribly hard, but we’re down to the wire and now isn’t the time to lose focus.

Is that really a good idea? I ask.

He’s silent.

You know what you have to get done, and I’m not saying no. Let’s see how the weekend goes.

He says okay, and the afternoon I ask if he’s going out and he shakes his head, sitting on the couch, surrounded by history books and calculus homework and college applications. I settle in a chair nearby and spend much of my day and night rebuilding documents, saving as I go, as he plods through his checklist, responsibly. And backing up.

* * *

This morning he is moving slowly and he is late, so I am late. But I rose extra early to get a head start, knowing his day would impact mine. I can adjust; it’s my job to adjust.

It’s a tough world and a complex one. In life we do the best we can with what we know at a point in time. We advance, we multitask, we hedge our bets. Likewise, with our technology. And even if we plan ahead we cannot protect ourselves from every unanticipated event. But if we’re smart, we create backups to help. Flash drives. And family.

© D A Wolf