| Reading Time 3 minute

A dreadful day
25Aug2017 was a day everyone dreads. I was happily typing on my laptop when a background app locked up. I tried to kill the offending app but Task Manager wouldn’t open. Then the whole screen went black and the laptop crashed. As frustrating as a computer crash is, computers are replaceable. Your data is not replaceable!

I tried holding down the power button for 10-15 seconds hoping that would fix the issue. Nothing. I unplugged all the cables and tried holding the power button again. Nothing. I bought a new Dell XPS 13 with a 1TB SSD in March 2017! In less than six months, it died!?!

I’m a digital nomad. I’m living out of a backpack and a large suitcase. I had elected to leave my old 17” laptop with a friend to try to sell to limit my gear. Did I make a huge mistake? How efficient could I be with my cell phone and Bluetooth keyboard?

My short term solution was:

  1. Say bad words (repeatedly)
  2. Stress out
  3. Search the internet for a solution (there were some possibles, but required a TINY torc wrench I didn’t have)
  4. Pull out my phone stand and iClever keyboard to keep writing
  5. Ask a friend to DHL me my old laptop
  6. Open a bottle of wine

Working on my Galaxy S7 with an iClever bluetooth keyboard and a Moko stand

A similar event had happened in Paris 3 years ago with another Dell. That time I was in Paris for work for a week, then Granada and Sevilla for vacation before going back to the US. The laptop never worked again and was replaced under warranty after 2 months of back and forth with Dell. Would that happen again? I’d moved all my data off the laptop I’d left w/a friend so he could sell it or buy it himself [NOTE: The laptop I left w/a friend was the replacement for the dead Paris one.]

Luckily this time, after unplugging everything and letting the battery discharge for several hours, then a 30 minute Skype call to Dell Tech Support, taught me a new to me, test, hold the Function key down while pressing the power button. It ran some tests (about 5 minutes) and magically was back to 100% working with no file loss.

I then texted my friend not to ship me the old laptop.

The incident did prompt me to copy my critical files to an external 4TB drive, to evaluate if I need to start cloud syncing by default and evaluate if I need an upgrade from the free cloud storage tier. I also created a restore point on my laptop (last known good) and a recovery drive on my USB stick.

While I was lucky, the incident reminded me of the challenges of technology. Call me paranoid or cautious or smart to have a data risk management plan (RMP). I now do a backup once a week to the 4TB drive I travel with. I have an archive historical copy of everything up to September 20 securely offsite on my 8TB drive. I’ve made Google Drive my primary storage of my critical files.

Recommended Data RMP

  1. Have a current cloud copy of your data to work on.
  2. Have a current local copy of your data to work on offline.
  3. Have an offline, off-site archive copy of your data that you update quarterly or semi-annually.
  4. Have an alternate device to work on (could be a tablet or a phone w/external keyboard, Chromecast and TV)
  5. Have a bottle of wine available, just in case.

BOTTOM LINE: Having only one copy of data is too risky for me.


I have visited 7 continents and 80 countries. I have lived in 9 different countries. I speak English, Spanish, French, and Russian. I like to hike, ski, dive, eat, drink, and wander the wonders of the world.

%d bloggers like this: