Well, I suppose it was appropriate that it would happen in the week of Back to the Future day. Except for me it was more a case of ‘Back to the Past’, or ‘back to the exact instant before I did something incredibly stupid’! Intrigued? Allow me to expand…
They say there are only two kinds of computer owners – those who back-up, and those who wish they had! Until recently, earlier this year in fact, I was one of those carefree souls who added, subtracted, updated and migrated files, programs and even entire systems without a problem. Any time I did think about backing-up I thought, I really should do that. But I didn’t.
Then, I must’ve read an article too far and realised I was playing Russian Roulette with a lot of precious stuff, especially photos, that would cause intense anguish if they ever disappeared into the ether completely. Not to mention the grief I’d get from she-who-must-be-obeyed!
Anyway, when everything else was getting updated and upgraded I reckoned the new Mac Mini and fibre broadband deserved a new router too, so why not go the whole hog and do the funky back-up thing as well. So, an Apple Time Capsule was duly added to our tech family. Now, clearly, other back-up solutions are available, but who can resist yet another piece of sleek white Cupertino magic that just, well, works?
Since February, said piece of white sleekness has sat innocently in a corner beaming tinterweb all round our house without missing a beat whilst also, surreptitiously, backing up our entire system every few hours. So far, so fantastic but, so what? If you’re thinking ahead you’ll probably know what’s coming…
In an idle moment last week I decided to clear out some space on our hard drive so started junking redundant download managers and other pieces of accumulated debris (as an aside, they should get the ‘Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners’ engaged in some hard drive decontamination – now THERE’S a programme, Channel 4!). And very satisfying it all was too. So much so that I decided to rectify something else that’s been bugging me for a while.
Without going into too much excruciatingly boring detail… I had somehow created two accounts for each of us on the computer when I went through the initial set-up. No great problem, as I was able to delete the extra ones at the time, but they hung about in a ‘Deleted Users’ folder as a constant reminder of my faux pas. Cometh the day, cometh the hour – why not get rid of them too?
Checking online, in case I did something stupid (watch THAT come back to haunt me…), I set about my task and had soon deleted my deletions. Did I stop there? Of course not, as that would be too sensible. What was still bugging me was that the remaining user accounts had the digit ‘1’ after them so I set about changing that too. Oh, the sense of achievement! I was on a roll! All that remained to be done was to restart the computer so everything would tidy itself up. Then, I could bask in the glory of space on the hard drive, properly named user accounts and the ‘Deleted Users’ ghost would be gone for good.
As the chime kicked in and the Apple symbol appeared, all seemed well. Then, wait a minute, that doesn’t look right and… why on earth is it asking me to set up my account again? Oh well, just a quirk, carry on… and then, it happened. I stared at the screen in disbelief. Where my overstuffed and badly organised desktop should’ve been set against a backdrop of Lake Trasimeno at dusk, was… nothing. Well, not nothing exactly, but a fresh, empty desktop straight out of the Apple playbook. The Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners would’ve liked what they saw, but I was too gripped by panic to appreciate its squeaky cleanness!
I checked the other account desktop, by this time more in hope than expectation, but it was the same story across there. Not only had I lost everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, but I had also lost the Boss’s everything! This was not good.
Then I remembered Time Capsule, that shiny plastic beauty whirring away silently in the background, so I entered Time Machine and prepared to go ‘Back to the Past’. At this point in the story probably only the geeks are still with me, but for all the normal people out there, Time Capsule is where the back-ups live and Time Machine is the proverbial Delorean that gets us into those back-ups.
Except, it didn’t! Now, whatever panic I felt before was nothing to what was going on now! More hyperventilating research led to me discovering that my very own Flux Capacitor (if you haven’t seen Back to the Future, and shame on you by the way, the Flux Capacitor is what allows Doc’s Delorean to travel through time) was a specific restart procedure involving the Command and R keys. Bear with me…
Wow, pressing those two keys on restart had me hitting 88 miles per hour tout suite, the Flux Capacitor kicked in and Time Machine took me back to that far off place of about an hour before where everything was right in the world, except for United being bottom of the league and my hard drive being a wee bit full, right before I had got involved in deleting the deleted.
About half an hour later I was gazing lovingly at exactly the same scene I had been gazing critically at less than two hours previously, and boy it looked good. It was like the last two hours hadn’t happened. Fantastic.
I now look upon my ‘Deleted Users’ folder in the same way a child looks at a favourite toy, and bathe in the security that it affords me. Once I’ve calmed down, and done a heap more research, I may return to the task I so painfully failed at, but the moral of this simple tale, dear reader, is… BACK UP, BACK UP AND… BACK UP AGAIN!