Steps to recovery
OK, now that I had done just about the stupidest thing in my entire life, I had to figure out how to get back into operation. Fortunately, I still had my Frost & Sullivan Dell Latitude notebook, so I kept that system running as normal. And I had my Toshiba backup drive, in which I had backed up most of my files the previous Friday. And I had most of the files backed up on the Fabrik remote service as well. I also had my BlackBerry for Frost & Sullivan wireless e-mail and my Peek for personal wireless e-mail, so I could "limp along" replying to folks using my personal wireless e-mail system.
But, before I could do any restore, I had to get another notebook PC. Fortunately, the folks at Fujitsu came to the rescue. I contacted them on Dec. 17, and they had a new LifeBook A6220 system with a 320GB disk, 4 GB of memory, and their new 64-bit Vista OS available for editorial loan on my doorstep by Friday morning.
It's always a hassle to set up the Wi-Fi network with security, then load the applications. I had to download Office 2007 off the Web since my CD with key was left in Atlanta. But, they give you a 60-day grace period, which was enough time to get things running. (You have to be sure to remove the pre-installed "junior" version of Office so that you don't end up with two versions of the same software-the pre-install doesn't include Outlook).
My first inclination was to restore all the backed up data from Fabrik, but it turned out that wasn't such a good idea. Fabrik provides for two methods to restore data. The primary method-and the one that's easiest to use-is to restore a file or folder using the downloaded Fabrik client. This assumes that you may have over-written a file, lost it or had a corrupted file or folder. In this case, you load up the Fabrik client, point to the files or folders you want to recover (it retains a copy of the last eight versions of the each file), and the client talks to the Fabrik server to access and restore the files.
But I didn't have that remote client installed on the new computer. In the case of a disaster like the one that I had, they provide a Web-based backup that allows you to point to the files you want to restore (in this case, all of them). The Fabrik system then clumps them together into a series of 3GB zipped files that have to be downloaded using a Web browser. Once you download the 3GB segment, you have to "pick through" the files you want and re-create your folders in which to store them. And, even though the download speeds are faster than the upload speeds for broadband access, it would still take a long time and a lot of work to download more than 100,000 files (representing more than 100 GB) and restore everything that way.
At this point, I realized that the most critical files were in my Outlook Primary PST, which represented around 1.4 GB and had the most recent Inbox/Sent folders for the past few months. So, I requested Web restore for this one file, which restored pretty quickly. Then, I used the Toshiba portable backup drive that operates at USB 2.0 speeds to restore my data files, my 2,500 songs and my 40,000 digital photos. I then got Outlook to open the Primary PST and set it as my Inbox. I was pleased that Fabrik had done the last backup the day before we drove to Florida, so I only lost one day of e-mails. The rest of the folders were all restored and, by Saturday afternoon, I was back in full operation.