The traditional print publishing industry requires long production cycles before any book or publication can see print. This situation has become more acute for authors like myself who publish books on annual software releases. I hope to use this blog to publish information, updates, addenda, ruminations, and other "mid-cycle" missives. I hope you enjoy it.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What do you do when you loose a file?

Curse and swear? (certainly)
Restore the backup? (definitely try)
Look for a backup of the backup? (absolutely while cursing and swearing)
Redo the work you lost? (arrrgggghhh)

Well, you blog about it of course.... :-)

Being new to this blog thing, I am compelled to write about my latest frustration. I was up last night till about 11:00 pm working on Chapter 7 of Mastering Revit Architecture. Now Word has been acting a little strange lately by asking me if I want to save the Normal.dot template all the time. I don't know if this is the cause, but it seems that the last time my DOC was saved was at 7:52PM not after 11:00 when I closed all the files and stopped working.

I use Windows Offline files to keep synchronized copies of everything on my server copied to my Laptop. This allows me to unplug and go mobile and still maintain access to all my files. Mostly it works as advertised with a few caveats. I will refer to this as redundancy number 1. I also have a Seagate Mirra backup NAS device. This gadget sits in the closet making continuous backups of files as I save them. (Remember the save part). Let's call this redundancy number 2. Finally, I have a Carbonite account. (www.carbonite.com) this is an online backup service that also continnuously backs up files in the background as you save (again remember the save part). This will be redundancy number 3. Finally, I have Word creating backup files (WBK) with each save. (There's that "S" work again). Redundancy 4.

So what happened. Well the short answer is, I must not have saved. You would think that with four levels of redundancy (and really more when you combine them - consider that both Mirra and Carbonite also keep previous versions and that both backup the main DOC file and the WBK file) that it shoudl have been a simple matter of restoring one of these multiple levels of redundancy and getting on with my day. HOWEVER, it appears that I just forgot to save. Hard as that is to believe. Or maybe, it was all those dang messages Word kept throwing about the silly Normal.dot file? I like that explaination much better because it makes me a victim rather than an dope.

Backtracking - I was working away in Word, making edits to my file. Time passed (a couple hours it seemed) and I made the classic blunder: I did not SAVE OFTEN. So when I got ready to wrap it up for the evening, I began closing applications and saving when prompted. this went fine in Revit - no lost work there (this time). Fine in Photoshop - all images are intact. Fine - in SnagIt - likewise. Then came Word. As best as I can tell, it decided to bug me about the Normal.dot template. I never know how to answer this because I say "Yes" to save, then it complain about the file being used. So I try again and click "No" that time. So somewhere in this confusing and frustrating stream of dialogs and pesterings I must have clicked No to save on my Chapter file instead of the Normal.dot file. So that means that the DOC did not save. This means that the WBK did not update. This means that Offline files saw no changes and did not update. This means that neither Mirra nor Carbonite saw any changes to either the DOC or the WBK and did not save backups or previous versions. So redundancy 1 was bypassed, redundancy 2 - bypassed, R3 - bypassed, R4, 5, 6... bypassed.... All because I accidentally clicked the wrong stinkin' button.

Man I love computers.

Moral of the story. SAVE OFTEN.

It does raise an interesting loophole in background backup services...

Well, I gotta get back to work ReWriting the chapter I already wrote. Ah well, it's always faster the second time. ;-)


William said...

One thing which Paul you probably already know is just set your MS Word to save every X minutes for you.

Paul F. Aubin said...

Hi William:

I am pretty sure I have that set. This was just one of those days with the perfect storm of mishaps and errors to conspire to my loss of work. We all have to live through it at least once....