Sunday, February 08, 2009


Aside from the obvious—the death of a loved one, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, losing your job, your retirement funds or your home—what would be the most terrible thing that could happen to you? Last Tuesday, mine came to pass and during the last four days, I have been reeling from the shock. Yesterday, our bad news worm started to turn but my loss is still uppermost in my mind every waking moment. I will get through this but finding my way back to square one is going to take so much time and work, I worry whether I am up to the job …

Last week my computer was attacked by what they called a “fake virus warning” and I did everything wrong. Inadvertently, I allowed access to this cruel amusement, this nuisance some low life hacker created and although it was called a “harmless” virus, it kept me from working in Internet Explorer and after trying every fix in our small bag of expertise (including getting help from Microsoft) without results, we decided to take it in to a computer repair shop. They recognized my problem and assured me the job would only take a day or so and I could pick up the machine on this past Tuesday. On Tuesday morning, Phil called to see what progress had been made and much to our astonishment we were told (on speaker phone) in a matter of fact way that the hard drive on my computer had been “accidentally” wiped clean and it was irreversible. EXCUSE ME?

The pathetic explanation referencing how it happened was so far beyond comprehension it did nothing to appease the horrific feeling of loss that stunned us into disbelief. It couldn’t be … we didn’t hear correctly … surely they could undo the deed and make it all better! Nope, we were told nothing could be done. The only recourse without paying some computer lab many thousands of dollars—a “restore” feature on my computer was defective (probably from the factory). My 40 years of genealogy work in the computer program “Family Tree Maker”, my 10 plus years of work writing my ancestor’s biographies (not to mention my own bio), all the research I have collected over the years, our life on the road in pictures we have taken over the past 4.5 years and deleted from the camera, all my carefully digitized and categorized genealogy photos … all gone!

Phil went ballistic and I retreated into a quiet place to keep from going out of my mind.

As we drove the seven miles to town, we discussed our options and tried to decide what should/could be done. By now you are thinking, hasn’t she told us before she backs up her computer? Yes, we backed up “My Documents” and C-drive about once a month and I have a stack pf CDs that are labeled, “FTM” so although we lost several years of our “favorites” in IE and AOL (We learned our “favorites” on AOL were stored on our computer, not in AOL and we have learned it is possible to back up our “favorites” in IE but hadn’t done that either!) we were fairly certain it would be possible to reload my software programs and transfer the data from the external hard drive back into my computer. However, I felt sick and pretty stupid the next day while trying to reconstruct my genealogy program from the recent “backup” CDs when I discovered the only thing on them—ALL of them, was the FTM shortcut from the desktop—no data. Instead of using the “back up” feature on the FTM program I had used the “send to” feature from my hard drive to the CD. The worst part was that I KNEW better and that knowledge came back to me in a flood of remorse.

Now, for the good news, my packrat tendency may have saved the day. I have all my floppy diskettes leftover from the “old days” and I dug them all out of the media box. I have an external 3.5-inch disk reader and on them, I found my files. The thousands of pages of data were intact albeit out of date (as you know, genealogy is an ongoing project--ever changing) but it is a beginning! Then later, I found an old CD dated 2004 and yes, it was actually a bona fide back-up CD—burned correctly so I have my info up to five years ago. A huge start in the reconstruction! Also, all the data on my external hard drive transferred correctly and “my documents” is restored up to three weeks ago.

Note: The owner of the computer store installed a DVD burner, added 512 MB of RAM (bringing my total to 1024) and reinstalled Microsoft Office (I didn’t have the CD) at no charge as compensation. It was the best he could do and along with his genuine remorse, it would have to be acceptable.

Weather in Casa Grande: At 7 am, 50 degrees and cloudy with showers. The desert always needs rain. Even so, I can’t help but wish Arizona would rain on its own time, not mine! Does that make any sense? Oh well, (as Phil always says) … the forecast says we will have showers, thunderstorms and clouds for the next couple days. Since we are moving to the fairground (unpaved, hard packed clay RV parking) for our Western Gypsy Gathering Rally today we can expect lots of mud. We are not looking forward to that.

I am so sorry this post is so long but I wanted to tell you all why I have been conspicuously absent from the comments sections of all my friends and family’s blogs lately. My sadness overwhelmed me for a few days but I am back … I will survive this nightmare, I will!


  1. Yeah, it is an empty feeling. I had it happen once, but nothing stored like you had. I know I would have been pretty 'sick'. Enjoy the get-t-gether there in AZ.
    The weatehr here in Florida is beautiful today!

  2. I feel your pain! We just were attacked with the same fake virus warning. Had to reinastall the OS and lost some things we thought we thought were backed up, just like you. Gonna be a big job to recreate some things.

  3. Oh Joy, how awful. I just took about 10 CD's of pictures off. I would have by hysterical. Have missed you.

  4. Anonymous11:26 AM

    Joy... I'm cleaning out my closet this month and have the box I told you about. Can you tell me specifically what I have that could help you? Remember I have all those old cards etc. but wasn't sure that's what you needed. I'm not sure people really understand your loss. I was sick all week for you. Have been trying to think of how to go about finding things that would be most beneficial to you. As far as the computer shop guy goes, does he not feel he holds any responsibility for this, I mean except to give you new stuff. I wish I knew someone who could recover that for less then the thousands for you, I'd do it.

  5. My heart goes out to you...I've lost a lot of things over the years to computers and have always been lax in backups....and I have 30 years of IT background. LOL!

    After my last fiasco (corrupted user profile in Vista), I purchased a 750GB Maxtor One Touch 4 Plus backup drive. It's choose the directories &/or files you want backed up. The first time takes a while, from then on it backs up any changed or new file.

    Took away a ton of worry for me...I have it backup at 10pm every night. If the PC is off, it does the backup when it's turned back on. Well worth the money I spent!!

  6. Joy, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart just dropped. The depth of the loss is beyond thought. I don't think I have anything that Sharon doesn't but boy howdie if I do you certainly can have it. My thoughts are with you.

  7. Oh Joy, how horrifying! I can't even imagine. I'm so glad you found your back up - a true testament to its importance, and that the owner "tried" to make it better with his compensations. He still needs a healthy lashing with a wet noodle, though. Argh.

  8. It was so good seeing you guys! I'm sorry about your computer glitz, what a bummer. You might want to do what we do and have an off site storage backup like Carbonite. Its not that expensive and it backs up everything you want off site. So if you had a fire, etc, you would still have everything. Take a look at it, several friends have it. If you get it, tell them we sent you, we then get a free month!!!
    NO KITTENS yet this morning and we're heading for North Ranch. C U down the RD!

  9. Phil & Joy,
    I'm thinking "Second Opinion" on the remains of yor harddrive etc. and a few thumb drives.
    Happy open roading. Come see us in Wilson.

  10. Oh, What a terible thing to happen! One thing I always do now, is that when I do a backup, I always check the CD to make sure what I thought I put on it is really there.

    Second, I lost a lot of emails I had saved that were really important to me. I thought I had backed them up but when I really needed them, nope, they weren't there. I feel your pain, I know your pain.