The Day My Grant Proposal Died

For anyone out there who has ever tried to complete a grant proposal, you know it’s a beast.  Even if you haven’t, you likely have had to spend time with someone in the throes of such a beast and their complaining was enough to turn you off of the task forever (or at least, until you had an idea about which you were excited enough to sign up for fiscal sponsorship and get your fundraising mojo on).

Because I am apparently a glutton for punishment, in my life outside of Fractured Atlas I do engage in a small amount of grant writing for a number of arts groups in New York City. I do this on a relatively casual freelance basis, most often from my living room.

So I’m sitting at home, happily putting the final touches on one of the most beastly budgets with which I have ever wrestled.  As I’m finishing shoving numbers from four separate fiscal years into a Byzantine budget form, happily clicking between the company’s standard budget and the Excel spreadsheet in which the grantor’s budget must be presented, my computer (a Macbook from 2006) put its foot down, refused to do any more work, and gave me the spinning wheel of death.

With a five-year-old computer, one has to assume that things aren’t going to move as quickly as one might like, but this seemed relatively ridiculous. I decided to let it sit for a minute and think about what it had done, so got up and washed some dishes, watered the plants, knit a sweater.

Still nothing.

Diagnosis?  Dead hard drive. No hope whatsoever.  In the end, we weren’t able to recover a single thing.

Remember how I said I practice what I preach?  I do, except, apparently, when I don’t.  As soon as I came to terms with the fact that my computer had just sucked away all hope, that it had become a black hole of data loss, I realized that I had absolutely no backup of any kind on any of the data on my computer, not to mention the proposal budget that I had just spent eight hours completing.  Sure, I email a lot of things either to myself or to others, I have a lot of information online, and thank heavens Fractured Atlas practices what I preach because everything work-related is safely out and about in the cloud, far away from me.  But that’s not everything. What about the blog-posts-in-progress, the photos of my disastrous trip to India, my apple kimchi recipe?  All gone.  I have an extra rider on my renter’s insurance policy guaranteeing that any computers or computer-related equipment (work-related or not) will be covered, but that’s just to replace the literal physical hardware itself.  The stuff that’s on there, and only there, is worth a lot more to me than the replacement cost my five-year-old Macbook. Especially that apple kimchi recipe.

The good news about that grant proposal?  I had the presence of mind to take a high-res photograph of the screen and recreate the spreadsheet from the LCD screen of my camera.  The bad news?  All of those photos from India, all of my music, all of my unpublished writing, gone.

I bought an external hard drive three days ago.  It arrived yesterday, and I ran home immediately to set it up and back up my data both to the drive and to a remote location (more on that in the next post!).

I don’t want any of you to be like me, so  I’m challenging every one of our Fractured Atlas members to make it your goal in April to secure your data.  There are a lot of things that you might do in life that you might regret.  Backing up data will never be one of them.

Here’s the takeaway:

The cost of a terabyte of storage today is less than what I paid in 2006 for a 1GB HD card for my digital camera.  Here’s one that comes in blue and is smaller than your copy of “The Art of the Turnaround”.  And it has a caseHere’s mine (brushed aluminum hardware does me in every time). Want 2 terabytes?  Who doesn’t?  This from Western Digital may be your answer, and with all that storage you’ll be able to back up all of your music, photos, and video without blinking an eye.  So what are you waiting for?

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2 Responses to “The Day My Grant Proposal Died”

  1. crossingchoir:

    There are also free secure online storage and backup solutions, like SugarSync and DropBox, that also allow you to share the files with the people you are working with. That’s what I use, and I’m really happy with the outcome.

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