The Thrill Of Victory And The Agony Of Delete

Anyone who depends on a computer for their livelihood–freelancers, teleworkers, telecommuters–has, at one time or another, felt the thrill of victory when they finally figured out the strange combination of keystrokes required in Word to do some simple task.

But they also know the agony of delete.

It’s that moment when you push the Delete key, and just after you click the Confirm button (while muttering, “YES I want to delete the   #%^&* file, I just SAID I did, didn’t I?”), and you realize that’s actually NOT what you want to delete.

Happened to me today. Made a dumb mistake and changed my IMAP email preferences, which deleted all cached emails older than 30 days, back to forever.

Sadder, but wiser, I believe in backups, but this? Sure, I have DVD backups, and yes I even store some of them in our safety deposit box at the bank.

(Don’t laugh–a company I started back in 1992 recently settled a patent infringement law suit, at least in part, because I was able to produce emails that proved we had the technology before the patent was filed.)

But what I was worried about were emails I’d just deleted that had details of writing assignments with American Express OPEN, a new contract agreement with Entrepreneur magazine (watch the June issue), and other valuable messages. Sunday afternoon, I was in no mood for rummaging through backup disks and the banks were closed.

No problem. I simply went to my email program, clicked on my Assignments folder where I (used to) keep such stuff, and then clicked on Time Machine, a slick program bundled free with Apple’s OS X operating system. Click to start it, click to tell it where you want the backups to go. Done. I did that months ago, and my backups–hour by hour, for a week; week by week, for a month; and month by month, until you run out of space on the backup disk–have been faithfully recorded.

So Time Machine went to work, I entered the Twilight Zone, and there on my monitor, was an actual working, scrollable email screen from several days ago showing everything that was there just before the ignosecond when I realized I’d screwed up.

Click . . . pause . . . resurrected; back from the dead! My emails were all back, and the agony of delete became the thrill of victory.

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