I thought it would never happen to me, so I didn’t take proper precautions.Then one day recently whilst doing a little surfing, flashing alarms suddenly infested my screen, and urgent messages blinked at me telling me that my folders contained about a million viruses which could only be cured if I pressed this download button now. I’d heard of other people being tricked into downloading something which eventually destroyed their system, so, not knowing what else to do and not having a know-all teenager handy, I switched off and unplugged.
I felt pretty smug. I had avoided the trap. I had refused to panic and download something nasty. I had outwitted the geeky virus writers, the sneeky hackers and the shabby spammers.
I had a celebratory cup of tea whilst I waited for the dust to settle a bit, and then with a triumphant flourish I switched my machine back on.
Except that I couldn’t. Or rather, I could power it up, but nothing significant happened. All I got after a few seconds of whirring was a blue screen and a message about something being corrupted in my Fat sector, which I didn’t understand but which wasn’t, I thought, a very nice thing to say to a girl.
Rebooting didn’t help, neither did swearing nor threatening it with the first floor drop.
A friend of mine suggested using the back-up disc so thoughtfully provided by Evesham Computers when I purchased it some years ago, but it refused to load ( naturally!) and the option of phoning the helpline had disappeared some months before when Evesham went out of business.
Now I began to panic.
It wasn’t the computer itself that I was worried about. It was over 6 years old and had become unreliable and due for replacement. Anyway, I could carry on working and accessing the internet etc on my laptop.
What really spooked me was the potential data loss. Although most of my writings are backed up to CD’s and DVD’s, I had hundred of digital photos and over 1000 of my favourite songs stored on my desktop computer, as well as personal documents of one sort or another. All of them, particularly the photographs, were irreplaceable. None were backed up. I felt sick, and not a little foolish.
I phoned around Yellow Pages for some professional help and nearly had the conniptions at the average rate being quoted of £50 an hour with a minimum fee of £200. Yikes! For that sort of money I could buy a posh cocktail dress AND have enough left over for some stockings.
As a last resort, I decided to pop into my local Maplins ( an chain of UK electronics stores), to see if they had any suggestions.
The assistant was small, spotty. bespectacled and geeky and so fitted my stereotype of the the sort of little snirp who wrote the virus that caused my problem in the first place that I almost biffed him one on sight.
And how wrong I would have been. After patiently listening to my problem, and politely answering my entirely stupid, computer illiterate questions, he came up with a solution which entailed removing my hard drive ( scary but not difficult) and plugging it in via a special contraption to my lap top.
Result, thanks to a geeky kidI can now access all the data I thought I’d lost, at a cost of less than £16.
Which just goes to show how important it is to back your data up. And how foolish we are to judge people according to sterotypes.
Including geeks. And especially naturists.