Learning the Hard Way


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?