Monday, April 06, 2009

Taxes, computers, and backups, a tale of woe

In an effort to streamline our paperwork and to cut down on the number of banker's boxes full of paper that line our attic, we purchased a document scanner this past fall. Over the fall and early winter, I spent hours and hours scanning, tagging, and filing scanned documents before shredding the originals.

This included all our tax related documents.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Did she forget to back it all up? The answer: no, but we ended up with a huge mess when the hard drive on my laptop (where we did the scanning to) completely died.

No problem. We have a networked hard drive and automatic back up software over the network. I made backups of our scanned files and they were saved to the network.

Hubby bought a new drive and recovered the files from the network drive. Everything was fine, EXCEPT the scanner backups. They were all corrupted.

Apparently the laptop hard drive was failing for some time and wasn't able to make the backups.

This all happened at the end of February/beginning of March. With taxes due April 15th.

So after multiple email/phone chats with the scanner company, we were able to ascertain that the scanner files were in a specific mssql folder and if we could get the drive recovered, we *should* (or might, according to the tech support folks) be able to read our files.

The long and short of it is we had to send the drive out to a recovery service. The good news: they were able to recover the drive. The bad news: It cost of $2,000 to essentially get back a single critical folder. (Everything else was already on our own backup system.)

Now that specific folder is included in our automatic backups and I check the integrity of the archived back up made through the program.

The moral of the story is even if you do everything right, sh*t happens, but the quantities of sh*t happening are less if you do frequent backups. I think I might have jumped out the window if I'd lost my writing files. *Those* are backed up 6 ways from sunday.

Please back up your critical files today. Now. Right now. I'm not kidding.


  1. In case you have another hard drive failure, there is a program for Windows-based-machines called SpinRite that can work miracles on fixing hard drives enough to pull data from them. It's also a disk maintenance program, to help prevent/minimize failures. And it is significantly less than what you paid. While I haven't had to use it yet, we have it just in case, I've read/heard some testimonials that would make most people cringe at the thought but it works.

  2. Good tip, AnneV. SpinRite is a great program. We did try it, but it just didn't work for the problem the drive had.

    However, we have used it successfully in other circumstances.

    The other thing I would recommend to everyone is to defragment their hard drives at regular intervals.

  3. Yikes. The hard drive was hosed then. It just goes to show that how reliant we've become on techonology. I've actually been thinking about saving to the cloud, but haven't made the jump yet.

    Here's to no more technological hiccups for you. (I read your most current blog entry.)