14th May, 2012
In my younger years I worked on an IT helpdesk. Sometimes there’d be no calls. Then it was like a switch was thrown. The phones would go crazy and there’d be people waiting in the queue for ages.
PICTURE: Jakub Krechowicz/www.sxc.hu
"If you receive a document via email that requires editing, save it to your hard drive first. Then open the document from the saved location."
One of the most recurring phone calls was about lost work while creating or editing a document. The reasons were various and included: “We just had a blackout”; “I accidently kicked the power plug out of wall”; “My son played his game. The screen went blue and I hadn’t saved my work”; and, “It’s a really hot day and the computer turned itself off.”
Fortunately this issue is easy to prevent. Here are some tips to keep data loss minimal:
• Save your document as soon as you open the program. Before you type anything. Most programs these days have an ‘autosave’ function that will periodically save your document in the background. Although this is handy to have, it shouldn’t replace saving your document in the first place.
• If you have a document on a USB or flash drive that requires editing, copy it to your computer’s hard drive first. Do your editing and copy it back to the USB drive. I have seen USB drives lose connectivity to the computer. Once that happens, the document is in limbo. Corruption can then occur. Copying it to your computer’s hard drive first also ensures that you have it in two places.
• If it is an important document that you are working on, save incremental copies as you go under different file names - for example ‘2012 budget V1’, ‘2012 budget V2’. This will ensure that if anything happens, you’ll still have a version to go back to. This may be extra work but if the document is that important then it is worth it.
• If you receive a document via email that requires editing, save it to your hard drive first. Then open the document from the saved location. Don’t open it from the email and edit it. Opening it from the email saves the file in a temporary file location. If you have a computer issue and need to restart, you’ll have to search through the temporary file folder to find the document. Given what is saved in a temporary file folder; you may never find it. The same principle applies if you press save and close the program. It will be saved in the temporary file folder and you’ll need to search for it.
If a document is corrupted you can purchase software that will attempt to recover the file. These programs are hit and miss. Sometimes you’ll be fortunate and recover the whole file. Other times you may recover part of the file and your text can be found amongst program code. In this instance you’d need to copy and paste the text to a new document. Formatting will be lost and will need to be done again.
These tips are for a ‘work-in-progress’ document. They are not a replacement for regular backups. Regular backups should be performed when all documents, spreadsheets and the like are closed. This topic will be covered at a later date.
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