How spectacularly the wheels came off…

So… last night sucked.

Well, last night and this morning, since I spent four hours trying to recover my lost manuscripts.

Yes. Lost.

They can’t be active undeleted. That can’t be system restored. They can’t be called up out of the hundreds of back-ups made, because according to the writing program I used, they never existed.

So I can’t open my Doorways rough rewrite, but I have a copy of it to Word, if I decline all edits I made.

Half of the original opening for Don’t Look Back is missing, but at least I hand-wrote it over to my notebook for NaNoWriMo.

Guardian seems to open and refuse at random, but I’ve managed to copy/paste it to Word.

No. My problem lies with Eden’s Son I.E. WiP2. The entire rewrite is gone. Poof. Up into the ether. All of the back-ups only read up to before I started it. There are no Word versions because I didn’t send it to anyone to read. I didn’t copy/paste because a) it’s freaking tedious and b) it’s safe as long as I back up? Right?

Turns out no. Turns out backing up manually to create an extra copy obliterated months worth of work in less than a second.

So lesson number 1: NEVER use freeware. It’s worth as much as you paid for it.
Number 2: NEVER assume that programmers think further than the tips of their noses. They don’t. So that thing that seems obvious to do because it’s what is supposed to happen? Don’t do it before going to help and making doubly sure that that isn’t the one that in his own words “DO NOT DO UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.”

But now I have to wonder: If I risk losing my work if I don’t back-up and if I do? What action should I take? Print every page every freaking time? Because apparently it means bullshit to people that you spent most of a year on the work you lost, because apparently: “It can’t vanish.” is a satisfactory reply.

But like I said. I spent four hours last night looking for the data. My mother spent two this morning. It isn’t there.

I am starting to accept this. Slowly, but it’s hard, because now I know that my end of January goal for WiP2 is screwed. In fact, I downloaded the trial for Scrivener last night with the plan to buy the program in a month, but you know what? I don’t want to write. I don’t want to even look at my rough draft. Because all that I can see is the end of the document that’s supposed to be followed by 26 chapters or thirty five thousand hard-fought words.

And then I want to kill something.

But on the flip-side, I’ve never thought I could lose over a hundred thousand words of everything and survive, but here I am.

So… what’s your record loss? Got any horror stories to share? How did you recover?
Any Scrivener users out there? Is the program any good?
Any other drafting programs that I can look at?

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27 thoughts on “How spectacularly the wheels came off…

  1. OMG, this is probably the worst I could imagine. Oh dear. I'm so sorry for your loss.
    I use yWriter and so far it's really good. But thanks to you I will export the project to a word or html file (which I don't need the program for and save it several times).

    But please, remember, rewriting something is much quicker than coming up with it and editing it the first time. If you do it fast (and it will suck because it's still a hell lot of work) you might recover most of your 35.000 words in a few weeks.

    One idea: you could go to a computer specialist or download a program that restores deleted files (I used it when I accidentally deleted all of my films once). Long shot, but who knows.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  2. Oh, no. I am so, so sorry. I'll be praying. Like Nahno, I would strongly recommend talking to a computer specialist. A friend of mine had her hard drive completely crash and thus lost all her documents/novels and a specialist was able to recover them.

  3. Sorry to hear about this.

    But having dabbled a bit in programming myself, I have to come up for the said programmer here. Computers are surprisingly unpredictable, so it's very hard to have error handling for every type of situation.

    I'm also thinking that this could be an isolated incident, as a quick Google search didn't bring up any complaints.

    I once had a problem with software that saved and thought it saved and told me that it saved, but at a later stage, it turned out that it didn't. The reason for this was because the computer put the hard drive on standby and when the program tried to save, it didn't, even though it thought it did.
    Something along those lines. A person educated in this might be able to help you more accurately.

    Also, freeware isn't necessarily crappy. In many instances this is true, but there are a lot of exceptions (e.g. OpenOffice and Linux).

    My point is, make sure you pegged the right criminal, or you might get this problem again in the future.

    Good luck with everything.

  4. Aww! *hugs* This is one of my fears in writing that I'll somehow lose everything. I often email documents to myself and save them on two different flash drives. Of course, there are no guarantees.

    I've planned to get Scrivener soon. For a plotter, I thought it'd be nifty.

  5. For the future, you can do what I do. I email attachments of my work to myself regularly and save them in my email files. If I ever lose something, I can retrieve almost everything that way. Of course, this assumes my email server doesn't lose everything somehow.
    But, don't you save everything to an external memory device? I save everything back and forth between two or three memory devices. It could be a pain finding the latest version of things, but it's there someplace.

  6. That's horrible, horrible! So sorry to hear that. I do as Richard does–I paranoid-ly send them to myself via emails. And every once in a while my hubby does a save to an external hard drive.

  7. {hugs} How frustrating and disappointing!

    I'm just starting to use Scrivener and loving it. I've use yWriter also. Knock on wood, neither have crashed and burned on me yet. But like Richard, I export into a word doc at least once a week and email that file to myself (I also rotate email addresses as a double safe guard).

    I also agree about taking your computer to someone who might be able to salvage your data. Geek Squad was able to save a year's worth of photos I thought were lost forever after one crash. Definitely worth checking into. Good luck.

  8. Yep, I had a story disappear; fortunately it was only 2000 words or so. BUT I wrote it on the fly, so there were no notes, etc. So now I have a flash drive which I copy everything to immediately.
    Hope a computer specialist can save you…

  9. Oh my God, Misha, I'm so sorry. I can't believe your program managed to wipe out that much of your work like that. It's…horrifying.

    I've had work disappear like that too. Back when I was using Word, I had autosave set for every five or so minutes, and it overloaded the program. I lost about two hours worth of work, or about five thousand words in all. I thought I was going to murder the computer. Now I use google.docs to store my work and keep copies of it on my desktop.

    I hope this all works out for you, Misha, I really do.

  10. I get upset when my computer looses a hundred word opening. Thirty-five thousand words? Unimaginable. I'm getting sick just thinking about it.

    Which reminds me that I should probably go root up a flash drive and back up my files!

  11. What a nightmare–I am so sorry to hear. I hope something still can be salvaged, and if not, that you recover quickly and with new steam to write.

    I created a private group on Facebook (with only me as a member) and I've been posting each chapter of my WIP as I finish them.

  12. I won't pretend I can truly understand how this makes you feel. I can only imagine how I would feel and killing something definitely comes to mind.

    I'm going to hope, hope and hope some more that since you have survived the initial trauma of losing the data, that you are in a better place to decide what you want to do from here.

    Big hugs!! 😦

  13. OMG, Misha, I can't believe you haven't broken something.
    I back my writing up to a flash drive every session. So far I've lost stuff on the laptop but it was still on the drive. Except for the three blog posts for this week. Seems I only dreamed I wrote them so they're no where.
    lease don't give up. You are way too good to think like that.

  14. Oh Misha, I can't believe this! I am so, so sorry. I hope against all hope that you can recover it. I can't even imagine losing that much work. As someone else suggested Google docs is wonderful for backing something up. I used to back up on a flash drive a lot before Google docs came into play. I've even simply e-mailed myself a copy of my WIP just to have in my account should anything happen.

  15. Oh my gosh I'm so sorry. Last year my laptop harddrive decided to go out but I had my big story backed up on a usb, but all the little stuff was lost. I can't imagine losing so much.

    As for scrivener, I use it and don't have any complaints. I would recommend it.

    Maybe you should try and get your computer looked at by a specialist like a few of the other have said.

    I hope things turn out for the better *hugs*

  16. Only thing I have to say is you handled all this waaaay better than I would have. I would have lined my computer up against a wall and filled it full of holes (aka: shot the hell out of it). I feel really bad for you…and now I have to go run my back up coz I'm paranoid now.

    PS. If you are not on a firewall protected network, you should look into an 0ff-site backup service called Back Blaze. It may take a couple days the first time you back up everything but then set it to run each day only backing up the files that have changed. I'd rate it 5-Star, oh yeah it's only $5 a month…that's right 5 bucks. Best deal around. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Happy Holidays!

  17. That's so horrible, I'm so sorry for your loss 😦 I've had the same thing happen before and it's always devastating.

    I have three copies of all my work, because I'm paranoid like that. I work off a USB stick, and I copy my entire writing folder to my hard drive once a day and overwrite what was there before. And for novels, I also email myself a copy of the file once a day, because with gmail it's always online…

    I hope you're able to recover your work from your notes sooner rather than later…

  18. That's awful, Misha. I'm so sorry and I can truly understand how bad you feel about it. If it's of help to you I'm now in the habit of emailing my work to myself every time I finish working. That way I can access it even if both my computers become terminally ill.

  19. Oh Misha (((hugs))). I come back after three weeks of traveling to check on you and find such a horrid thing has happened to your work 😦 I am so, so sorry. My hubby is an IT manager, so he has me back up all my work on two flash drives like Cheri mentioned she does. Emailing it to yourself is a good idea, too. My hard drive crashed last year and could not be recovered. I didn't lose any manuscripts, but I lost slide shows and photos, so I know some of your pain. Please don't give up on writing. We all believe in you.

  20. Hey all! Just want to categorically state that I will NEVER quit writing.

    I'm just taking a break from drafting until the wound scabs over. In the mean time, I'm starting on Doorways.

    🙂 Thanks so much for your concern.

    P.S. The reason why I didn't blog today: Spent all day out of the house, so it's more important to put in some editing time. I'll be back to posting tomorrow.

    Love you lots!

  21. I am so sorry. I had a laptop suddenly and weirdly die taking a novel with it. I had bits and pieces of hard copies from different revisions, and I had a couple of chapters out with critique partners. I printed everything I could out and made piles on the floor. And then our new rescue puppy made use of the papers 🙂 It was really hard to not take that as a sign from the universe. And yes, I back up my stuff a lot now – and I print out versions a lot more often.

  22. Ouch! That happened to me back in 1998 — lost an entire 198 pages of manuscript. All of it.

    Now I email myself (a free gmail account set up just for the purpose) my files hyper-regularly. That means anytime I have a couple hours of new work on the manuscript.

    That 1998 boondoggle ended up costing me 5 years. Don't let it devastate you. Just put your head down and grind away.

    And good luck.

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