Yesterday, I was minding my own business, visiting a blog and typing a response when it happened. The dreaded blue screen of death. My computer, which has always behaved itself before, went blue. I've had the blue screen one or two times in the two years I've had my laptop and it always restarts.

Not this time.

This time, it refused. It insists that a very important system file is missing or corrupt. And, as the computer manufacturers know quite well when they preload these things at the factory, if something goes wrong with the operating system you need the disk.

But there is no disk. Toshiba thoughtfully preloaded XP onto my laptop and didn't give me a disk for that. Oh, they gave me a recovery disk. One that wipes my hard drive and returns it to its factory specs.

Uh, I don't think so.

What's a panicked writer to do? I back up, but the last back up of my WIP was two weeks ago. I've written a couple of scenes since then, scenes I could recreate if I had to, but who wants to do that? And then there are all those picture files that I can't remember if I saved onto the desktop hard drive (it's in a box because there's no room to set it up at my parents's house).

So I find a computer repair place in the local area and race down there. The guys at Valley Computers have my eternal gratitude for saving all my files. Within an hour, I had a disk with everything on it. Whew. But I still don't know about the laptop. The guys were a bit surprised to see a Toshiba. They said they don't get many of them for repair. Far more HPs and Dells.

But they still haven't been able to bring the computer up. It's stubbornly insisting on that XP setup disk. They have several, but there are always tweaks to the OS, so they keep trying to find the disk that corresponds.

In the meantime, I may have to buy a new laptop. I'm using my mother's Sony Vaio right now and I'm finding I don't like it much. It has some weird keyboard things, and for a 2G processor (1G memory) it's pretty damn slow. My 1.6 512mb is faster.

My husband is excited about the prospect of buying a new Vista-loaded laptop. It does look pretty cool, and I suppose I could get used to it. Mac is not an option for me, those cute (and somewhat misleading) commericals aside. Too expensive and too proprietary. And I've known at least one person with a similar Mac problem like what just happened to me. It was a far more expensive crash for her since the computer cost double what mine did.

Hopefully, this is all speculation and I'll have my laptop back soon. It's only two years old, and for what I need it to do, it has plenty of life left in it. I'm not a graphics intensive, game-playing person.

So the lesson here, and why I began this post in the first place, is that you should be sure you back up frequently. Make sure you've got all those picture files somewhere, too. They are even more irreplaceable than documents. I can make up new scenes, but I can never replace pics of my cruise vacation.

I'm going to research portable storage options later. I have a flash drive, but I want something with more memory, something I can get everything on quickly and easily.

I'll survive my first-ever computer crash, but I'll definitely be more diligent about backups in the future. ๐Ÿ™‚