I spent last weekend sick in bed with the flu. Lots of sleep, Nyquil and soup. Being a considerate employee, I stayed home from work on Monday to try and keep my coworkers germ-free. With the extra day to recover, I went in on Tuesday feeling good. That morning, I was greeted by an inbox flooded with three days worth of emails, but dealt with the batch quickly, especially one from "Administrator" with an attachment that was oddly empty.
An hour later, a pop-up window spontaneously filled my screen and refused to go away: I had caught a virus.
It killed my work computer.
During the recovery process, my entire hard drive was lost, including dozens of files that I hadn’t backed up. All gone, like I’d never spent the hours pouring over them, thinking, rewriting, editing, and organizing. It’s a really shitty feeling – for two reasons.
First off, this particular virus encrypts files so that they can’t be opened. That means its whole modus operandi is to destroy other people’s work. It’s not even trying to steal identities or money (that I know of). It’s just digital cancer. There are some sick people out there – people who build things just to break other people’s things. Just because.
But I already knew this. In fact, I lost a $1,600 laptop in 2009 to a similar virus. And yet, I never really created a good storage protection plan that I stuck to. External hard drives and email archives help, but that’s not enough. If I had spent an hour researching and implementing a cloud-based storage solution for all of my work, I would have been safe.
This coming week I’m going to back up my work and personal computers on Dropbox and my external hard drive. This shouldn’t have happened a second time but it did. It won’t happen a third. This time I'm paying for the vaccine.