Learning the Hard Way

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After a 4-day Carnival break traveling, I come back home eager to go back to work, with 3 projects to deliver the next day. I feel relaxed and ready to work on my best client’s projects. Only to find out, when I turn my computer on, that it is plain, with absolutely no configuration: no wallpaper, only a few links on my desktop, no Outlook, no FTP, no documents… as if it had just been formatted. “Well,” I thought, “I’ll see what happened later on. Let me work on my projects first.” No, no, no! This client’s CAT, Trados Studio, wouldn’t work either!

I called a colleague. He had never heard of such a thing before. I then called my cousin, and we stayed awake until 5 am (from 11 pm) trying to figure out what happened and to fix it. He was able to find all my documents in a hidden folder. Phew! (I had a backup, but not a recent one.) But I still couldn’t open Trados. A friend of mine came over later that day and also tried to fix it. Nothing. We were only able to create another user, in which I could at least work on Trados. Apparently, my Windows crashed my user in an update, all by itself.

Consequences: I had to do something I dread: cancel all my projects. I felt terrible, desperate and miserable. It was a huge volume to allocate last minute and it was my best client, after all. While there was nothing else I could do because the situation was far beyond my reach, we can’t help it, right? We do feel horrible.

Bottom line is we learn some quite important things when catastrophes like this one happen. My lessons this time were:

  • There is no way a professional translator can have only one computer. We must have at least two! I was already planning on buying another laptop. No plans anymore. I’m buying another one right now!
  • Our backup computers must also have all the programs, software, etc. we need and have on our main computer. That is, I will have to buy another Trados license. This may be obvious for some of you, but it wasn’t for me.
  • Needless to say backups are a must. But they take time and we end up doing them less frequently than we should. So I got an idea from a colleague: send important files we use daily  to the cloud, and do it every day. And then we do our overall backups every week or month.

If you, like me, hadn’t thought of the points mentioned above before, please start considering them now. It’s better to spend some money now than to lose important clients (and our heads) in the future.

Has anything bad ever happened to you that taught you quite a lesson?

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8 thoughts on “Learning the Hard Way

  1. It’s horrible when something like this happens and I’m sorry it has happened to you. I learnt it the hard way too when I was at uni. The summer before my final year I had gathered lots of materials for my final paper. I had written quite a bit when my hard drive crashed. Everything was lost. Tears, fears, you name it. Bought a new computer, gathered materials again.. you can imagine. Who has been doing regular back-up since? Yup, me.

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    • My worst worry, in this case, was that I couldn’t work, because Trados was not working. Since nobody had any idea of what was happening, I started to worry about when I would be able to go back to work.
      I have also lost all the emails I kept on Outlook. A real mess! =/

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  2. Hi Carol! So sorry to hear about what you had to go through! I haven’t experienced anything like that and hope I never will. But I did have a couple instances when my computer suddenly crashed. When it happened I was relieved that all my work files and programs were backed up, but I lost all personal files, pictures etc. So now I back up everything.

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    • Didn’t you have the Freelance Plus license? That’s a package with two licenses, actually. I have one of those as well, but I shared it with a friend at the time.
      Now we’re thinking on buying another one (the 2014 for time) to share again. It’s cheaper than buying only one license.

      I’ve already read your post! It’s a pleasure talking to you, Tanya! You know, I *always* remember your story! Seriously. Sometimes my computer overheats as well, and I turn it down right away, in panic it may explode!
      I did learn from your experience. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to share our bad experiences, right. Not only us learn, but others as well.

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  3. Sorry to hear about this. That must have been TERRIBLE! I had a similar experience. It was actually worse. My laptop died (I had to buy a new one) right after I delivered a project for which I had made “salti mortali” to finish and of which I had not kept a complete back-up because I was pretty exhausted. The day I had to deliver (I woke up very early to finish proofreading), the disaster occurred. I kept switching it on and nothing. It seemed dead. I was this close to panic but I kept calm (it was too early, didn’t want to wake anybody up). It took me a while to breath life into my laptop (its final hours…..) and I somehow managed to send the files to the client at about 8.30am and then…guess what! My laptop officially died just after that…. Call it “luck”..don’t know but YES back-up is MUST and two computers a MUST too. That laptop (poor thing) cost me 450euros and come to think of it I had problems with it from the start. It lasted less than a year.
    Hope you resolve the Trados licence!

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    • Wow, Magda! That’s awful! 😦
      Well, let’s at least look on the bright side: it allowed you to deliver your project before finally passing out. Phew! Can you imagine if it didn’t??? Oh, gosh!
      Indeed, your computer didn’t last long. But I guess it’s always a matter of luck. Mine is almost 5 years old, and rarely gave me trouble.
      Some people are saying I can use the same license on another computer, but that seems really strange! Anyway, I’ll just make sure and if I’m right, everything is already planned. I’m just waiting for some good price, because I want to buy a Mac this time.
      Thanks for your kind words! 🙂

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