Of course, there should have been an online back-up. But that was part of the problem. Every time I changed jobs, I lost access to the Onedrive material I had uploaded whilst in post.
During teacher training four years ago, I had realised that I needed something to which I would have safe and secure access that would not be inaccessible if I changed schools.
At £55, the Toshiba external hard drive seemed a good solution to my problems. I could gather all the material from various online locations and flash drives and store them somewhere they would not be lost.
The external hard drive went everywhere with me. If I had it, I could plug it in anywhere and have immediate access to all of my material. It became the place where I put all of my lessons for school and all of my notes for my PhD research. I became so confident in the utility of the drive that I stopped writing notes in exercise books and switched to using digital documents. My supervisor commented that he noticed that I had moved on from analogue times.
All went well until last week. Plugging the drive into my laptop to open a PowerPoint for a lesson, I discovered that it was not appearing among the drives listed.
‘A temporary glitch’, I thought, and wasn’t worried when I did an online search for a solution. There were at least a dozen possible causes and remedies suggested. ‘One of them will resolve the problem,’ I told myself.
None of the remedies worked.
On Friday, I raced back from my school in Athboy to my home in Ballyfermot and caught a bus into the city centre. ‘There must be someone who can fix it’, I thought.
No-one could. No-one would even consider attempting to do so.
On Saturday morning, I took a bus and tram to Phibsborough where a sympathetic man listened to my problems and explained that external hard drives could be easily damaged and he would do what he could.
Yesterday lunchtime, the phone rang and I answered with a degree of trepidation.
The trepidation was justified.
‘We’ll do what we can, but we cannot promise anything. We will try to recover your files, but it is going to be very expensive.’
‘How much?’ I said.
‘€900 plus VAT.’
There was silence.
I realised that there were thousands of hours of work in those files. ‘Do what you can,’ I said.
In the meantime, I have to improvise, writing lessons for each day and searching for fragments of research for a paper due in two weeks’ time.
God be with the days of pen and paper.