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Cloud MemeLAST WEEK was one helluva week, if you’ll forgive my being so informal. Not content with the usual deadlines, urgent jobs to squeeze in for direct clients, I also had an unscheduled trip to Heathrow, a frustrating telephone committee meeting by conference call which went on for far longer than I’d hoped, and to top it all, I’ve been trying to set up two new computers with my work settings and programs. My son did all the donkey work of setting up the basics last weekend, so I just had to come to grips with, and fine-tune, Windows 8 and Word 2013, as well as downloading all my translation-related programs and tools:  Wordfast, Abbyy, Solid, TO3000, Trados

It all started when my main desktop computer failed catastrophically just before I went off on my skiing holiday a few weeks ago. The screen had been pixelating periodically for a while, but I thought I’d solved the problem by hoovering out all the accumulated dust. Apparently not, as it is now refusing to respond for more than a couple of minutes – not very helpful! My grown-up son, my no-longer-resident computer expert, diagnosed an overheating and burnt-out graphics card: prognosis terminal as the computer has been running extremely slowly for some time and is already 6-7 years old. Cue new machine! In fact cue a new laptop as well, since that has been on the agenda for a while, and the lack of a second Trados-compatible machine obviously hasn’t been ideal over the last few weeks.

Fortunately, I have my work-in-progress files and folders backed up to Dropbox, primarily so I can work on both my laptop and my desktop and know I’ve always got access to up-to-date TMs, glossaries and files, as well as the latest invoices and letters I might need, and recent photos for that matter. Dropbox offers you 2 GB of space for free and you can get more space by recommending friends – if they join, you get an extra 500 MB for every friend. That’s been a godsend in my present situation as I was able to continue working on my laptop with access to all my files and in the knowledge that I could quickly and easily access them on the new computers once they arrived and I was ready to set them up.

What wasn’t so easy was my Trados data. I only had Trados installed on my desktop computer, as my laptop is pretty ancient and I really didn’t think it could handle the memory-intensive Trados programs and files. All my Trados files (all 9GB of them!) were on the desktop, but once again I had taken the precaution of backing up my computer to Mozy (for the equivalent of around £40 a year for 50GB as of the last invoice back in December). It also backed up (at a scheduled time every day) all my archived files and photos, so it was a simple matter to go into restore mode and download the 27GB of files, photos, music etc. I had backed up. Huge relief and money well spent if you ask me!

The downside of my back-up arrangements was that certain database files hidden within programs had been saved in my Program files and thus not backed up to Mozy. This was the case with TO3000. I was able to download my old version of the program from their website after an exchange of e-mails, but I hadn’t realised that my data wasn’t stored somewhere it would be readily backed up. Unless I can manage to switch on my old computer one last time and keep it working long enough to extract that particular file, I’m afraid that data is lost for good. Moral of the tale: make sure you check your back-up settings for individual programs! (Note: I’ve since managed to eke out the old computer for s short time and download both my TO3000 profile and my Trados user profile – result!)

Another option I’m now considering is using the Skydrive subscription that came with my new computer(s). All Skydrive users get 7 GB of free cloud storage and if you take out the new Home Premium subscription to Office 365 for £79.99 a year (for up to 5 PCs and 5 smartphones), you also get an extra 20GB for each person added to the account. In theory, that would mean I could store my Trados files on there and access them on each computer. I’ll have to look into this, but it sounds as though it’s an option worth considering. My son has signed up to my Office subscription too, so we’re splitting the cost. I was aghast at first at the thought of a yearly subscription to Office rather than an upfront cost, but if you get extra features, it may well prove to be a good solution.

I’ve yet to install Trados on either of the new machines, preferring to leave that for when I’m not overrun with urgent deadlines, but I’m hoping it will go smoothly… fingers crossed! All in all, I’ve been pretty impressed with how effective my various back-up strategies have been. I dread to think what would happen if you had no safety net in place, so I would urge you to think about all eventualities – it really isn’t hard to do and once it’s done, you can just forget about it, secure in the knowledge that your work is safely accessible, whatever happens, and wherever you may be.