Thursday night, right in the middle of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," the screen went dark with a ftzblp sort of sound, and Dell was Dedd. Or at least, it had a rattle.
Friday evening I was able to make it go on again. Yay! I did some email, chatted a bit, wrote in my offline journal...then ftzblp. I got on my thank-God-I-have-it other computer and did some reading about those regular backups I should have been doing.
And on the principle that no matter how many horses have escaped, closing the barn door is a worthwhile action to take, on Saturday morning I went to CompUSA and bought an external hard drive.
Dell coughed about half of My Documents up onto the new drive before breathing its last.
Firm in my conviction (or fervent in my hope) that the hard disk was still viable, yesterday I removed it from the Dell, returned to CompUSA, and bought an enclosure for it. An enclosure, I had just learned, makes an external hard disk out of a formerly internal one. Universal! Fits all 2.5" laptop HDDs!
The enclosure didn't fit, those liars.
I returned to CompUSA yet again, where a real nice guy (who was looking a little bored on this Super Bowl Sunday (and you should have seen Home Depot and Lowe's! Empty, I tell you)), showed me how to make the enclosure work.
free--actual customer service! Go, CompUSA!
I took it home and plugged it in to my working computer.
The old hard drive whirred and clicked (yes, it really whirs and clicks--it's doing it right now) and came to life. Yay! I started copying stuff. It kept going. A couple of hours later, the copy was done. The Little Hard Drive That Could was fine. My entire life over the past three-plus years was safe. Yay!
Then late last night I went to establish my Opera browser and email on the new computer. No email. Years of email, gone. The file was missing, and the directory it was supposed to be in was, like a grease-stained copy of The Da Vinci Code, both "corrupted and unreadable."
So I downloaded some software on a trial basis and set it running. It ran all night. I woke up at 5:00 this morning and checked on it. An hour and a half of searching in the cryptic world of recovered filenames finally turned it up: my vast store of email was in F33487FBHTYGHB. Just like you'd think.
To restore the recovered files (of which there were a bazillion), you have to actually buy the software. So of course, I did.
The moral of the story is: if you don't do regular backups, and there's a problem with your computer, and you're really, really lucky that your HDD is actually still spinning and not utterly corrupted or physically broken, AND you have another computer at hand, then for the low-Low-LOW price of only
plust two trips to a computer store and three days of anxiety, you can say, "Backups? I don't need no stinkin' backups."