Here’s to the computer angel

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, August 11, 2010

There are guardian angels that appear and save mortals from technological tragedies. I know because I have one.

My old computer died. I put it to bed and the next morning it was gone. Well not gone but definitely in a coma and on its way out.

I’ve had a home computer since 1995 and this was the first time one crashed so I wasn‘t sure what was happening. I waited for the screen to light up and to welcome me but it sat there doing nothing. Judging by the sound coming from the tower, it was thinking really hard and maybe hurting a little.

When I got a message saying Windows XP couldn’t load because of corrupt/missing files, I made that same sound as I punched keys hoping for a miracle. No miracle happened.

Computers are wonderful. With the click of a mouse, you do stuff like write newspaper columns and send them from your house to an editor sitting at a desk miles away.

Yes, having a computer is a wonder — until things stop working like they should work. Then it’s panic time and you go into desperation mode realizing you can no longer get to your beloved files.

Now you are thinking, “she should use the back up she created so she wouldn’t lose things she really wanted to keep.” You are correct in thinking that and if I had backed stuff up, this column would end right here.

Alas, there was no back up anything just a half-dead computer threatening to carry years of my stuff to the grave with it. I wanted to cry when I thought of those lovely words in my document folder disappearing forever. Then just before my tears started, a small voice whispered.

“Neil, call Neil.”

I’m not sure it was divine intervention because I’m not clear if a personal computer crisis is on the list of things in which the divine intervenes. Anyway, that message came from somewhere so I contacted my friend Neil T, henceforth known as the “computer angel.” (I’m protecting his identity lest he be overwhelmed with rescue-me cries from stranded web surfers— only so much one angel can handle).

“My computer won’t start, says it’s corrupted. I’ve lost files. My life as I know it is over,” words poured out as Neil listened patiently.

Then he said something amazing — “I think I can retrieve your stuff.”

A Halleluiah chorus sang in my head.

“You can get my files back,” I whispered. “You think you can save them.”

And that is exactly what he did. He made a house call, made a diagnosis and took the sick computer with him. Then through a process I don’t begin to understand, he retrieved everything. Alas, my eight-year-old computer did not survive the retrieval procedure.

Neil did what he could to revive it once he got the files off, but it was too far-gone, its hard drive slipping away even as it tried to boot-up.

Yesterday my files came home and, again thanks to Neil, took up residence on my new (bought because of a tax-free-holiday weekend deal) desktop computer. Needless to say, I am indebted to this angel who saved me from a technological meltdown and performed miracle retrieval on a dying computer.

Now I pass along sage advice from my personal computer guardian angel, Neil.

“Back up your computer every day.”

And I’m going to do that. At least I’m going to try to learn how to do that. At least I’m going to think about trying to learn how to do that.

At least I’m going to keep Neil’s phone number in a safe place near my new computer…