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The Bug Stops Here
by Shaunna Privratsky

Quick-how many of you have been hit with a virus? I venture to guess that anyone who spends much time on the computer has suffered one or more of these nasty bugs. You might think you are automatically protected when you subscribe to MSN, AOL or other big-name providers. You would be wrong. I learned the free anti-virus versions that come with the server can actually facilitate the virus' entry, even with Junk filters and anti-sp*m devices installed.

I learned that you can get a virus just from annoying pop-ups, just from clicking the "X" to close the darn thing. That is how my entire hard drive became irretrievably corrupted and I lost everything.

The three most important terms in a writer's career: backup, backup, backup. There are now many ways to backup your files that are quick and inexpensive. You should also protect your computer investment with a quality anti-virus program like Norton Anti-virus program 2005. The initial $50 is steep, but you get a $30 rebate if this is an update to your previous system and a $20 rebate if you purchase from Best Buy. In my opinion, it is well worth the peace of mind.

Here's a peek at what led to my total system meltdown. Don't let this happen to you! I knew something had to be wrong, because it would take 45 minutes to an hour to connect to the Internet. Repeated requested to technical service at MSN and Qwest yielded little more than frustration.

I finally gave in and called a computer technician. After picking up my modem, she cheerfully told me my hard drive was completely corrupted by a particularly nasty virus. I am careful about opening strange e-mails, but she said it could've come from sp*m, a pop-up ad or even from a friend unaware that his or her e-mail was carrying it.

At the same time I learned both my CD and floppy disk drive needed to be replaced. To top off the misery, my entire hard drive contents were lost, files that I've been saving since 2001 when I began writing. I lost important addresses, articles, stories, whole chapters of my three unpublished novels, important newsletter articles and links; the list continues.

The technician enlisted the help of her husband and another computer expert to retrieve my data, but it was no use. Luckily, in an effort to free up my hard drive, I had transferred 90% of my work onto disks. Unfortunately my new hard drive couldn't read them.

After a week without a computer, they finally came up with a special patch that converts my old documents into new ones. My original version of Microsoft works is no longer around-shows how fast the hardware becomes obsolete.

I am happy to report that now I can access the Internet in less than five minutes. [Miracle!] I no longer have to struggle with my disk drives, and my computer functions almost like new. I'm slowly rebuilding my address book and contact list and trying to retrieve all those lost files. The articles, essays and stories that have been published can simply be retyped, but I only have the original notes for some.

Now that I know how easy it is for my computer to be totally incapacitated, I am going to be much more vigilant about protecting it. I am busy backing up my most recent work. A box of ten blank floppy disks costs less than $5 at Wal-mart. The investment is worth it! No matter what you write, your words are precious. If your files were lost, you may never be able to recall the exact phrases you used or all the steps in a sequence. Even with excellent notes, the finished product may be lost forever.

You can also purchase an external hard drive that plugs into your computer. They range from a mere $20 to $100 and are extremely portable. You can transfer your entire hard drive onto it and take it anywhere. This is also an excellent way to backup your files.

Floppy disks are becoming obsolete, as hard as that is to believe. If you have a CD burner installed, you can transfer your files to CD's to have an instantly accessible backup cache. A ten pack of blank disks costs around $10.

Protect your work by always backing it up, no matter what version you decide to use. If you get in the habit of doing it as you're saving it, it takes little more than a minute. At the very least, take a half hour every week or two to backup all your new work. Someday, you will be fervently happy that you did.

Repeat after me: the writer's most important words are: backup, backup, backup. Now go do it!

© Copyright 2005, Shaunna Privratsky

Shaunna Privratsky writes fulltime from North Dakota, in between shoveling snow. Please visit The Writer Within at http://shaunna67.tripod.com. We are looking for new writers and we are a paying market.

Other articles by Shaunna Privratsky :

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