Seriously, people, backup your files
Hannah Lash, a gifted young New York composer with an ear for bracing dissonances, recently suffered a misfortune: her laptop was swiped from her car, resulting in the loss of hundreds of scores, sketches, and personal files.
Dear non-techie friends: I do not nag you about much, but I will nag you about this ‘til the day I die. Backup your files. Hard drives are cheap, and if you have a Mac, Time Machine makes it easier than it has ever been in the history of computing. Please, please, please backup your files, unless you don’t care about losing your family photos, your screenplay, or your dissertation.
More than once I’ve had a friend ask me how they can get files off of a corrupt hard drive, but here’s a dirty little secret: Just because I work in computers doesn’t make me Neo. Once your hard drive dies—and every hard drive dies if you use it long enough—the odds of getting a file back off of it can be quite low, and it’s going to cost you real money to find that out regardless. It’s no fun to be in that situation, where my friend needs help, and I can’t help them, just like I can’t dodge bullets. And the worst thing about it is that it’s completely and totally preventable.
So, unless you are the rare über-luddite who doesn’t have anything he cares about on a hard drive, please, back it up.