I Entrusted My Life to a $20 Piece of Metal


It seems pretty stupid now in hindsight, but I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment last week.  Who knew you needed to backup your backup (apparently everyone but me)!  Ugh- hard lesson learned.

Last Wednesday was my last day of school.  I was finishing cleaning out my room and preparing to check out with the Vice Principal. There was a laundry list of to dos mostly required by the school that I was hacking away at.  On my personal list was cleaning up my computer and making sure to copy all of my files to a jump drive before I had to turn it in.

That morning I couldn’t find my new jump drive I had just gotten, so I gathered some of my old drives: the one that has all my most important documents and an older one from when I was student teaching.  I assumed between the two of them they could hold what was on my laptop before I had to turn it in.

One thing I did this year was create several videos to flip my classroom.  This definition of flipping classrooms is being used differently everywhere, but in schools with behavior issues- it basically means taping yourself so there’s another teacher in the room (you).  This way you can walk around and make sure the kids are doing what you are asking them to do in the video.  Some days this was my only saving grace.

Anyway, these videos take up a lot of storage, so I kept getting an error that said that my jump drive was too full.  I remembered last year when I copied files onto my jump drive when I left my last school for some reason files copied twice.  So, I thought if I went through and deleted the duplicates of everything it might clear more space for what I wanted to save now.

It was a nice trip down memory lane as I went through these files and deleted what was there twice. I reminisced over past lessons and even commented, “Wow, there’s some really great stuff on here.”

Due to my organization (I can never remember what I title anything) I can’t always easily access my files, but they were there.  Four years of work and all my most important teaching documents and letters of recommendation.

After deleting the duplicate of many files, I tried to drop a file from my computer into my jump drive again.  Ugh- it was still too full.  I quickly clicked ok to something that popped up and pulled, let’s be honest- ripped, my jump drive out.  (This was my first mistake- no, I don’t ever press the eject safely button.)

I quickly grabbed my other older jump drive and was ready to try to make the files fit on there.  When I couldn’t remember what I had saved on my first drive, I put it back into my computer to check and NOTHING.  My heart starting pounding a little faster, and looking back I knew something was wrong.  A pop up said- your file has been corrupted and is unreadable.  What?!  My friend assured me it was fine and to try to bring up my documents on her computer.

So, I tried to stay calm and gently (now I decide to be gentle) inserted the jump drive into the left side of her laptop.  I released my hand and just stared at this little piece that stored all of my hard work I had seen just moments ago.  The drive flashed very faintly like it was giving its last breath, but nothing appeared.

It was gone.

Frantic, I called my mom’s friend who is very tech savvy and hoped she’d have some solution/trick to make my work come back.  She helped me stay calm and walked me through some scenarios of things to try.  When none of those worked, she gently told me it might be the end of my jump drive.  She even told me some crazy stat on how many jump drives are made in seconds in some foreign country.

At that moment I realized how stupid it was that I hadn’t saved this all somewhere else.  It was all on this dinky jump drive that she just told me was a piece of crap.

“You don’t have it backed up?” She asked.

“NO, I don’t do stuff like that.  I didn’t even know I needed to do that.” I could barely hold tears in, and she kindly suggested I take it to a computer geek to see if they could help retrieve anything.

My principal sensed my frustration/urgency when she saw my face a few moments later.  I think I looked like I had seen a ghost.  She immediately put me through to an IT person in the district.  He proceeded to say it sounded like I might need some lessons on using computers and jump drives.

It took everything in me not to snap at this poor man who was trying to help.  Yes, he was right.  But it was too soon for me to hear a lecture.  “Sir, you are right, but I can’t think about that right now.”  I told him and tried to remain professional.

He asked me to take my computer to one of his technicians with my jump drive to see if there was anything they could do.  He reminded me that it wasn’t likely that there was anything left.

I was still hopeful, desperate really, so I drove right to the IT department and begged the computer guy to see if there was anything he could do.

He didn’t seem optimistic, but he said he’d try.  He didn’t call me for over a day, so I kept telling myself that no news was good news.  He finally called and said it was in fact all GONE.  There was no longer anything on the jump drive.

At that point, I already knew.  I had slowly been preparing myself for the worst.

I keep trying not to think of what I’ve lost.  A few times a document comes to mind and my heart sort of slows, and I feel a tightening in my chest. Some things I might be able to retrieve from emails or my actual desktop, but  whatever else is on there, I pray I don’t remember.

I’m shopping for an external hard drive to avoid this nightmare again.  Take a lesson from me and backup your files or get a more foolproof method than my $20 jump drive I somehow thought would stand the test of time.


6 thoughts on “I Entrusted My Life to a $20 Piece of Metal

  1. Jen,
    I have jump drives, external drives, and 3 storage places in the cloud. However, today is my backup day! Thanks for the reminder that tech is not always our friend!

    I did take note of all the resources that you used in trying to recover your data. That may be the lesson your students need to hear!

  2. I’m so sorry! That’s a hard lesson to learn, but a well-written slice of life. It’s making me wonder if I back up enough.

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