What to do when the cloud is not your friend

Unfriendly Cloud

You take a road trip but aren’t asked to drive. You have nothing but time on your hands as you sit in the backseat for the twelve-hour drive. You are amazed to realize the car is actually quiet. You’d left the kids at home. There are no small people complaining about the need for snacks and a potty break every twenty feet. No arguments about someone’s elbow extending too far over the shared armrest or whose turn it is to pick the movie. You’d almost forgotten how travel, sans children, could be.

You think, I’d better take advantage of this rare opportunity to write. With that kind of uninterrupted time, you are bound to make some significant headway into your neglected manuscript.

You put in your ear buds and start typing. After a few false starts the words start flowing and they are beautiful. You know that deep down these are scenes that are going to somehow survive through editing relatively intact. Thousands and thousands of words later, you press the save button. A message box opens up. Upload pending.

Ah, that’s right. There is no WiFi in the car and you have your word processing program set up to sync automatically to the cloud, a precaution you took after you nearly lost a portion of your previous manuscript to your aging computer’s blue screen of death. You click a few more buttons and shut the computer down. The writer’s euphoria stays with you for the rest of the day. Man, that scene was awesome. You daydream about future glowing reviews. You start actually looking forward to editing if only to bring the rest of your draft up to the same high standard.

The next day you wake up refreshed having actually slept in your own bed once again. After the colossal effort from the previous day, you think today might let yourself off with a light writing day. Maybe catch up on a blog or two, or possibly write a piece of flash fiction for a contest, but first, you want to make sure you sync your previous day’s writing to the cloud.

You open your word processor. A message box opens. “Would you like to sync?”

Yes please, you think to yourself. A progress bar opens. As you watch the bar fill, your eyes happen to notice the side bar navigation. Funny, I am pretty sure there were more chapter headings there yesterday. You scroll down as the file completes its upload. No other chapter headings are shown. Odd. You start feeling bile build in your stomach as you jump to the last page in the file.

“I think I found stairs.”

It wasn’t the glorious last line you knew would keep your readers turning the page. No. They are the last words you wrote three days ago, the last words that were synced with the cloud before your road trip. You’d forgotten the function works in both directions. Fudge (except, like in the Christmas Story, you aren’t thinking fudge).

What to do now?

  1. Click on File>Recover Unsaved Version.
  2. Stare at the resulting message box declaring no unsaved versions while remaining in denial.
  3. Open up every single file folder remotely related to your document in search of anything at all with the word Backup in the name.
  4. Finding nothing, go online and search for any hacker tips out there that might allow you to somehow recover previous keystrokes.
  5. Whimper as you realize you are in over your head.
  6. While remaining in denial, notify your loved one of your tragedy on the off-chance they might be able to somehow wave a magic wand and bring your work back.
  7. Cry.
  8. Pour yourself another cup of coffee.
  9. Consider if it would be okay under the circumstances to spike said cup of coffee though it is before 9am.
  10. Consider throwing up.
  11. Return to the manuscript while giving yourself the whole, you wrote it once, you can write it again pep talk.
  12. Remind yourself that you are a terrible liar.
  13. Cry some more.
  14. Recognize that the diet is ruined and eat a cookie.
  15. Write something entirely different, maybe an attempt at a blog post so that others might share in your pain; someone, at least, ought to be laughing.
  16. Return to the scene of the crime (because that is what it is, cloud, that’s what it is!)
  17. Stare at your cursor.
  18. Sigh.
  19. Drain your cup of un-doctored coffee (pat yourself on the back for remaining strong).
  20. Start writing once more.


59 thoughts on “What to do when the cloud is not your friend

  1. I’m lucky – I’ve never lost any portion of my writing, but then again, I’m obsessive about it for this very reason. I probably click SAVE every three minutes on average, and have backup copies on Dropbox.

    Maybe your writing will be even better the second time around! #eternaloptimist

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t know there was a difference. I just want a vcr. Although in Argentina i don’t find it far fetched that i will come across one soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yes, there is a huge difference. For one, the DVD will simply lock up or jump suddenly through a layer change. The laser disc on the other hand will make you actually get off the couch, walk over, and turn the thing over to its B side right as the action begins to build. Am I old? I feel old now.


  2. Oh, man. I wanted to laugh, but instead I’d rather cry with you. I feel your pain, Allie P! I feel it! Here’s hoping that today you manage to rewrite it just as well as you did the first time. Also, I’m way impressed you didn’t doctor your coffee. That probably would’ve been step 1 for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucky for me I had taken an extra day off to recover from my trip. I had intended it to be a day of rest and relaxation, but it became a writing marathon instead. I actually caught up to where I had been, but I still pout thinking how much further I might be now. Shush… there, there Allie… best not to dwell on the could’ves. You know that the school nurse could have just as easily called you to come and get Kiddo early like she normally does when you schedule a writing day.

      Regarding the coffee – I was sorely tempted. Sorely.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll be sure to let you know if I ever figure out what it is. Probably along the same lines as mosquitoes existing for a reason. That reason being fodder for other things.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no, that is so frustrating – and annoying the technology doesn’t prevent that happening. A sync shouldn’t wipe new things, especially not without a warning message 😦

    Oh well, good you recovered and got back to the writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ouch. Yeah, I like my Dropbox – it actually has the files saved *on my computer*, wifi or no wifi. There is nothing as sickening as that feeling of “the cloud just ate all my files”.


    1. I have the feeling my computer has been secretly plotting this moment against me ever since I accidently dropped it while exiting the TSA security line.

      I may have to look into the Dropbox option as a backup to my backup. Redundancy is nice!


  5. I’ve lost docs before just by hitting the wrong button on the keyboard, but to lose something in that infernal cloud… my heart goes out to you. Don’t know if I could have stayed as strong as you did, drinking unspiked coffee. You are true writing pro.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Agh! Allie, I’m so sorry to hear about that. I have a ton of sympathy. I’ve never tried to write a novel, but in my university days, the computers in the lab we had to use for writing essays would sometimes freeze or the floppy disk would be corrupted or in one way or another I’d lose everything I’d spent hours and hours typing. I enjoyed reading your post, but I know that’s a very poor compensation for losing so much work. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll take what compensation I can under the circumstances. I remember those good old days of corrupt floppy disks. At least when things went bad then you could take the disk out back and pulverize it with bat or cause similar destruction. Now you have to consider getting a whole new computer.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was rather surprised to learn I could write in the car too. I was expecting to only manage a line or two, but then the words started flowing and I almost forgot I was in the car.

      It was easier to recreate than I thought it would be. I don’t know that it was better, but at least I am now caught back up to where I was days ago.


    1. My first attempt was simply too good for this world and returned to the heavens from whence it came.

      Thanks though. Nothing like a panic attack first thing in the morning to get your creative juices flowing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now is the real test. Do I continue to strive for excellence knowing it can be taken away in an instant or do I take the safer path of a life devoted to mediocrity? Choices. Choices.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh why did I read this? It brings it all back. I spent weeks in counselling (aka moaning at the Missus); I’ve just come of the medication (the 14th cup of coffee per diem) and I’m undertaking some therapies (I back up onto 2 separate usbs, I mail myself the manuscript and I send it to drop box). And still I’m terrified. *holds head* why did I look, why? I was doing so well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do apologize. I realize now that I should have added a warning label at the beginning that it was a take not for the faint of heart.

      I usually backup to a USB as well, but the port was damaged after I was rushed through TSA a few months ago. I foolishly thought I could get by without it. I convinced myself I was being paranoid. Foolish me!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ouch! At first, I though, judging by the title, that this was going to be about lightning – and I guess it sort of was. Both types of clouds can initiate the same kind of disaster. So sorry for your loss. But I have no doubt that the replacement words you write will be even better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The writing gods giveth and they taketh away. There is probably a way to get it back, but it wasn’t a headache I wanted. Probably took less time rewriting than it would pulling it back from my forced upgrade to Windows 10.


  9. I thought horror stories were supposed to have cathartic ends! I’ve had to back up every To Do list I’ve ever written just to get over it. You know the writing you lost is only going to get more genius-like as time goes on, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a nightmare. Poor you. I don’t use the Cloud on the grounds that my husband is always swearing at it on his computer! I use Dropbox instead. Maybe if he stops swearing at it, I might entrust some of my work to it. Usually, if I’m writing away from home, I do it on a piece of paper (which hopefully I won’t lose before transferring the writing to my PC).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was funny (in the vein of you laugh so that you don’t start sobbing hysterically) until I read about your own technological mishap. Now I am afraid.


  11. I totally feel your pain. This summer I got a brand new computer. When my iCloud became full, rather than upgrade my space I started saving everything on my desktop because . . . well, it was a brand new computer and of course it wasn’t going to die anytime soon. Maybe that would have been true until I accidentally spilled tea on it. Just a little bit. A freak accident. And it went black right away. Anyway . . . I did end up getting most of my stuff back, but I learned the hard way and save everything to dropbox now. I had been using dropbox on my old computer and loved it. I don’t know why I stopped using it when I got my new one.

    Glad you had a good writing day afterward. But still sorry you lost your stuff to begin with.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Something similar happened to a friend of mine and he wound up almost losing nearly two years worth of his daughter’s baby pictures. Thankfully they were able to recover most of the files, but those sort of stories scare me to my core.

      Liked by 1 person

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