Please tell me I didn’t just do that!


I have this great Excel spreadsheet on my computer at work. It has all the equipment numbers and IP addresses of every piece of equipment in the school along with the teacher(s) assigned to the stuff, room numbers, copier codes, phone extensions. You know the file. It’s my one-stop lifeline for tech support and troubleshooting. It’s also taken me three years to build and modify. This thing is pretty big and it’s really my baby.

I deleted it today by accident.

Yep. I was cleaning off my Desktop and I just threw the deleting lasso around a bevy of spreadsheets I’d been using to make barcodes for different classes during orientation and dumped them into the Recycle Bin. Then, like the good anal retentive freak of nature that I am, I emptied the Bin. It was only then that I realized that “Staff Database v08-09” had been in the middle of that group of files now smoldering on the cyber-incinerator. Gone. Like a freight train. Gone. Like a ’59 Cadillac.

I panicked.

I swung into action and popped open the two undelete and file recovery programs I keep on a thumb drive for just such an occasion. Both files turned up the same result — they brought the file back, but as a text.tmp file that would not respond to any tool I tried to use on it. Excel would open it into an unreadable jumble of Cyrillic letters and alien characters. Wordpad just produced a bunch of boxes. I Googled and looked for fixes and tried everything I found suggested. I even tried a System Restore. All of my efforts proved to be as futile as an egg-pan under a rooster.

I became physically ill.

As bile rose in my throat and threatened to spew all over my nice LCD monitor, I felt hot tears pooling up behind my eyes. I didn’t know if I should cry or cuss; in the end, I couldn’t decide so I did both.

Now I know everyone is thinking, “What’s the big deal? Just go from your backup. You DO have a backup, don’t you?” Well . . . funny how that goes. I cannot count the times since becoming a librarian and IT support person that I’ve held the hand of a student or felt the tears soaking into my shoulder from a colleague who had just lost HOURS of work to a power surge or corrupted floppy disc. I can even recall from a warm and sunny spring morning during my college days the sight of a beautiful Tri-Delta coed literally picking one of the old style “all in one” Macs up and hurling it out the window of the computer lab . . . the third story computer lab . . . as the lab monitor looked on in abject horror. Seems the machine had eaten all the editing and additions to the term paper she’d worked on for three hours the night before, but that wasn’t what had made her go Office Space on the computer. No, apparently, she’d sat down and started back to work rebuilding the paper when some sort of error message popped up after she did spell-check and when she cleared the message, her paper, five weeks of work, and half her grade in that particular class were gone-gone bye-bye. She left her dorm room address and number with the lab monitor and told him to put it on her next tuition bill. The last I saw of her, she was walking unsteadily across the green commons field towards the beckoning bars of downtown.

But I digress.

Actually, in point of fact, I did not have a backup. I don’t know why. I’m the one who tells everyone else to back up his or her work. I’m the one who backs up all the computers in the school . . . except mine. It’s the IT world equivalent of a plumber who has a runny toilet and leaking pipes. No backup. File is now gone.

I cried some more.

Then, I remembered throw my haze of tears that I’d accidentally sent that entire file out to the faculty last week when I’d only meant to send part of it. I went to our secretary’s computer and asked if she had that email. I knew that even though I’d retracted and deleted the email almost immediately, she had her email client set to automatically open anything from me, thus saving the attachment.

The file was still on her computer!

I sent it back to myself.

I made sixteen copies including two on the server, one on CD, one on every network drive in the school, and one on both of my thumb drives.

I’m so happy now.

Please backup your files.

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