Jump Drives: A Cautionary Tale

Yesterday, I spent six hours editing a manuscript for a publisher. I saved intermittently while working; it’s a habit I’ve gotten into so I don’t lose work if the power fails or something else happens. When I reached the end, I saved and closed.

When I went to upload the completed file, I couldn’t find it. I figured I’d saved it to a different folder. I reopened Word to check recent files… and it wasn’t listed. I started to sweat.

I ran a search on the computer using the file name. NOTHNG. My stomach turned over.

Was it possible I’d lost six hours of work? 

I rebooted and opened Word again. The file still wasn’t listed. Okay, how was that possible? Word has built-in safeguards to recover data in case of a meltdown. Obviously, Word didn’t think anything weird had happened, and yet the damn file wasn’t listed. You know, the one I’d spent six hours working on! My head started to pound.

I was talking to AJ on the phone at the time and he got to listen to me go nuts. I’m betting it wasn’t pretty.

As I’d been saving all along, there had to be a temp file somewhere, so I started looking. Ever try to find a temp file? Right! They have weird-ass names like JuR35ToW.

So I downloaded the original manuscript from the publisher and clicked on ‘Save as’ and found myself looking at the lost file. The date and time were right and so was the size.

You can’t begin to imagine the relief I felt. …Well, yeah, you can, because I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar. Everyone who’s ever used a computer has experienced this.

I opened the file manager, went to the file, and double-clicked. Nada. A window opened, telling me the file was corrupt. My heart sank.

I stared at it for a while, thinking about how close I was to not having to do six hours of work all over again on Saturday, determined to somehow find a way to open that damn file!

I right-clicked, brought up properties, and stared at the list of options. Almost in a daze, I clicked Edit… and the file opened.

Everything was there: the blurbs I’d added, the edits, the comments… OH YEAH! I practically screamed with joy. And then I saved that sucker in two different places, before whatever had happened before happened again.

I spoke with a tech friend about it. He asked if I was using a jump drive. As it happens, I do. I like the idea of carrying around my important stuff in my pocket (the tech friend has a belt carabiner full of them!). He warned that jump drives fail. Also, there are a finite number of “write to’s” you can do before they simply stop working. The former I knew, the latter I’d had no idea of.

I’d been using this particular thumb drive for almost three years. I’m sure I went white when he told me that.

Instantly, I backed up the entire drive to the laptop and the desktop. From now on, jump drives are for moving files only. Never again will I rely on them as a portable hard drive.

So let my near-fatal experience be a lesson to you! And… happy computing. 🙂



About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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4 Responses to Jump Drives: A Cautionary Tale

  1. I’m surprised you don’t have Dropbox or something.

    • I looked into it but a friend has suggested I use Skydrive, because it will sync with every computer I have. He’s a Microsoft addict though, and while I’ve used Skydrive and liked it, I’m not so sure about sticking all my most precious files in a cloud. ;/

      • They’re nice as far as back ups, as opposed to storage. I lucked out–because I like to read my stuff on my Kindle, and tend to do the transfer wirelessly, everything gets saved in the Amazon cloud drive during the transfer.

        • I do that, too. I started using the jump drive because I had an office job last year. The company had no rule against using them, so I’d write on breaks and during lunch.

          I work at home now though, so no excuses for using the jump drive exclusively. Never again! Good for file transfer and backup, absolutely. Glad I remembered that before it was too late.

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