While writing my recent novel, One, I suffered, or rather, my laptop suffered, a catastrophic hard drive failure. The machine froze when I opened a website. I wish I could tell you that it had happened while hacking into some top secret files, but I was actually looking at a guitar site that showed me the minor pentatonic scale (don't worry, this isn't the site that killed my novel)... Rebooting didn't work. Blank screens all the way. Calling Mike, old friend and Mac guru, didn't bring me any joy. He suggested trying a few things, but nothing worked and I knew it was getting desperate when he resorted to the old IT standard of 'keep switching it off and on again'. I lost two and a half chapters. About 10,000 words. There are few worse feelings known to man.
I spent a fortune retrieving the data from the corrupt drive, with the attendant misery that comes with depending on a bunch of London-based Boolean chancers who never pick up their phones, only to find, when I eventually got my Mac back, that I was still missing about 8,000 words. I had no choice but to rewrite those chapters. I'd like to think that they turned out okay, but there's a nagging feeling that what went before was much better.
Anyway, now I back up regularly. We're talking every time I stop typing for longer than about a minute. To two external hard drives. And a pen drive. And my MobileMe account. And every so often I'll email what I've done to myself. I urge you to do the same.
The one plus that came out of all that heartache was that the data retrieval company replaced my previously puny hard drive, free of charge, with a 300 GB monster. Hmm... I'd rather have my work back though.