How My PC Almost Killed Me

computer on table with coffee cup

It started out like any other ordinary day. I sipped coffee while checking email and social media.

I had no idea what was coming

9:00 AM  I opened Microsoft Word to get some real work accomplished. It surprised me that I’d left three documents open from the day before. A draft of my Boob Report and a travel post listed as Document 2 and 3 hadn’t been named. The third was my book. I rewrote 202 pages during the last week and had been hitting Control, Save without changing the file name. I checked my saved files. Whoa! The last time my computer saved my book was on 8-8 and it was 8-15. My computer had been acting glitchy after downloading 5000 photos from my vacation. I had purchased an external hard drive and had freed up another 5 GBs.

Not too worried, I pressed, “Save as” expecting the filename option to come up, when my computer froze. I got an error message, “The Dialog box is open.” What the heck is an Open Dialog Box?

9:21 – I tried everything and then called my husband Danny. He gave me the name of his IT guy, Matt.

10:57 – Matt called me back and began working on the computer via internet.

11:40 – He called to give me the bad news. “I can’t find those files anywhere. I think you’re screwed. Just Control, Alt, Delete and reboot, but you won’t be able to save your files.

11:57 – I freaked out! I called Danny in tears. “I worked all week on those stories and my rewrite. What should I do?”

“You’ll probably have to Control, Alt, Delete.”

“I’m not giving up.”

I looked at the Ctrl, Alt, Delete buttons on my computer, but my hands shook. I …couldn’t…press…the…buttons…

12:05 – I went online and Googled the “open dialog box error” message. A Microsoft support message came up. The day before, I had changed the default font from Calibri to Times Roman and had screwed the pooch. I would have to find, “C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\STARTUP,” on my computer, double-click to open Word, delete the default setting and then simply save my documents. Sounds easy right?

I searched everywhere for that file. I could not find it anywhere.

12:49 – I called Matt again and explained my new dilemma. “That’s not your problem. You don’t have enough memory so your computer can’t function the way it’s supposed to.  Just Control, Alt, Delete and be done with it.

I freed up more GBs and went back to work

12:59 – I called Microsoft. The tech support woman said, “If you pay $199 dollars you can get service for a year or one of our tech experts can help you today for $99. Personally, I would try Control, Alt, Delete, but most likely you will lose your files.

I continued searching in hidden files.

1:51 – I called Best Buy and spoke with one of their computer geeks. “I would Control, Alt, Delete. It is very unlikely that your computer will save your files. I am so sorry.”

I screamed, I prayed, I cried, and I cursed my computer for not having more memory. I cursed myself for not freeing up more memory.

2:00 – I had a Eureka moment. “I’ll let the computer solve the problem. It suggested “Restoring” the computer to two days ago on the 13th. AHA! My computer is so smart. It recognized the problem was the dang open dialog box in the new default setting. All I had to do was press Restore. It stated it would not alter any documents. Woohoo! I’ll fix it myself! I did a happy dance around my office.

 2:14 – I called Danny and shouted, “I fixed it!”

He said he was proud of me for not giving up and for figuring it out by myself. While he was talking, I watched the Restore bar move in waves as the computer restored to its defaults from two days ago.

“You should call Matt and tell him. Maybe it will help someone else.”

2:21 – I called Matt and explained what I was doing.


I hung up and freaked out. I pressed the x in the corner of the Restore box several times. It continued restoring. It wouldn’t stop! I pressed CONTROL, ALT, DELETE! CONTROL, ALT, DELETE! CONTROL, ALT, DELETE!

The Restore box disappeared. Then icons dropped off the computer. The screen went black and the computer shut down.

I stood up and screamed.


My heart banged away at an alarming rate. Was I having a heart attack? Knowing how unhealthy this was for my heart and my healing, I took a deep breath. Its galloping pace decelerated a to a quick trot.

I held my breath and rebooted my computer. None of my programs remained open.

Afraid to look, I opened up Microsoft Word. At the top of the page, three documents had been saved in temp files.

Document 2

Document 3

The Foreboding – Original Version 8-8

Relief that my documents had been saved was brief as I looked at the file of my book and realized I may be screwed like Matt predicted. Original Version 8-8. No!!!

I opened up my 440-page novel. I remembered one of my last edits on the 14th. I had changed a wooden box to a peach crate. I held my breath and scrolled to page 202. At the top of the page, my protagonist said, “Thank God!”

Was it an omen?

I scanned through the paragraphs and found the words, “peach crate.”

Thank God is right! I almost fell over.

2:34 – I called Danny. Relieved and happy for me, he suggested I call Matt to relay the good news.

2:39 – Matt said, “I would NEVER count on that happening ever again. You are very lucky.”

I backed up the files as my hands continued to shake.

After shutting my laptop, I descended the stairs on wobbly legs and baked six dozen cookies and a cake. Even after watching Superbad, my nerves still jangled. Two days later, I opened a new file in Microsoft Word. It came up in Calibri. It did restore the defaults, but didn’t delete my documents.

Matt was right. I am lucky…

I went back to dreaming and posting on social media with a slight change in diet.

Now I'm a vegetarian - Can you blame me

Have you ever lost an important document?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

135 thoughts on “How My PC Almost Killed Me

Add yours

  1. Susie, you sound almost as stubborn as I am. Never give up – Never give in !!! No computer is smart enough to conquer the human brain…, after all, who designed and developed these danged computers anyway !!!


    1. You are so right! Stubborn as a mule! I wouldn’t give up. I look back at all the tennis matches in 100+ heat that nearly killed me last summer and wonder why that is so hard for me… Talk about wrecking my body! And I was fighting breast cancer at the time and didn’t know it… Sheesh!
      Thanks Paul!


  2. I know that heart attack, body goes cold and clammy feeling well. I’ve learned when I’m working on my book to email it to myself every week or so as a backup..


    1. That was the plan at one week exactly! Whoa. From now on I back it up every time I rewrite. Now the plan is to avoid as many heart attacks as possible… 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by Emma!


  3. Glad it worked out for you, but what a nerve-wracking experience! I’ve lost edits that I’ve made to a document. Funny how it always seems to happen when I’m on deadline!


    1. I know what you mean and it happened to me this morning. On WordPress, if you don’t save before previewing, the edits get wiped out. I know this, but blurry-eyed me doesn’t always remember at O’ dark thirty!
      Thanks Paul!


  4. Ugh. I know that scary feeling. I’ve been there. I am sooo glad you didn’t lose anything. For this reason my husband bought an automatic backup system. Top of the line. Has he hooked it up yet? No. Does a lot of good sitting in the box. LOL. He keeps reminding me it only takes five minutes to back everything up at the end of the day on a thumb drive. Yep, yep.


    1. Hi Debra! How are you????
      I am planning to do a whole computer back up tonight. I figure it will be done by morning. I hate touching anything on my computer that may get deleted. I am such a fritz anyway and reblogged a post from the Reader this morning after blogging this one! I am a goofball, that’s for sure….


  5. Whew. Heart stopping post! The memories of agony well portrayed.
    My husband’s company computers got infected and crashed – Noooooo! No hope there. Horrid experience
    Lived through that so while working in research I backed up everything multiple times everyday – and people laughed – until the entire system was destructively hacked – all gone….except my group’s because I had backed up so much stuff in so many locations. Just get stomach ache thinking about computer crashes….and yet my husband is coddling an old quirky one along “because he’s too busy” and has a brand new one waiting on the desk…I just will have no sympathy…and will probably have to leave the area to avoid the anguish.
    So glad you coaxed your words back!


    1. I coaxed them alright. It was a miracle. Everything about saving and backing up memories and data is so important and so easily taken for granted. For that reason, I have always kept all of the memory cards from our cameras. I know. 🙂
      Good luck to your husband! Sounds like he lives under a lucky star as well!


  6. I’ve not only lost documents, I’ve lost ideas for stories and posts. My laptops are a black hole for sucking my work into infinity. External HD is a great idea.


    1. Oh No Tom! That sounds miserable. The external drive I bought will back up a terabyte and only cost $69.00, but a flash drive only costs around $10.00.
      I think a trip to Best Buy is in order!


    1. Thanks Catherine. Boy did I pray, and rant, but kept trying. Now I am not taking chances and still have to get used to this new back up system. It is really easy and fast!
      I need to bake more cookies and this time, I won’t be under duress!


    1. Thanks so much and for reading it! I knew I had a story the second time recounting the horror story. I had to stop for a while since it raised my own blood pressure in the retelling! It is a good lesson for any writer or photographer.


  7. I think I was about to have a heart attack myself as I progressed through this post! That is nerve wracking! I think we have all had things like that happen to us on the computer. It’s almost like they are tormenting us on purpose!

    Control. Alt. Delete. I have hot those buttons many times, and yet they sometimes still do nothing!


    1. I shook for hours… It was horrid and yet I lived to tell another tale! There have been times when I had to take the battery out to reboot! They do have a mind of their own….right Hal?


  8. Carl is right, you can store a lot of things in Dropbox and other “cloud” type programs. Might be something for you to look into as well. It’s all safe, of course, until we have an apocalypse and all the Internet and satellites get destroyed!!


    1. I backed up all of my documents on the external hard drive and email the book to myself. I just was out of it that week.
      Danny used to print out all of my blogs. I think he quit at 125 and I hit 250 with this one!


  9. Alt+Ctrl+Del combination seems to be a fix-it-all solution for tech people. I always use that too when my computer freezes. You are so lucky to get your file back without losing any progress. An example for people who didn’t give up so easily.


    1. Thank you! I got lucky. Real lucky. I don’t know what I would have done if this rewrite would have disappeared. I hit page 292 today and have struggled with the last 15 pages. I can’t imagine starting over!


  10. I held my breath for you the entire way through this post. This must have been excruciating. Wow, I need a Xanax just thinking about losing all of that work. Holy anxiety batman!

    I am so so so so so so happy and relieved that you didn’t lose anything. Wow. Thank God indeed.


    1. Oh thanks for reading it! At first it was hard to tell the story to friends and family. I had to wait to write this post since it was so traumatic even with the happy ending. I don’t know if I would be rewriting right now if I had lost all that work I think it would be too depressing to face starting all over again!!!


  11. OMG! We were holding our breath the entire time, Susie. Mathair’s been very blessed with her computer, though it’s been temperamental as of late. I actually had my computer keel over on me while publishing our novel, The Perfect 7. I mean, literally in the process of publishing on Amazon it went black and died. Mathair and I had a total breakdown, running around our writing room (my bedroom) screaming and crying and cursing technology for everything it was worth. Thank heavens, there’s two of us and Mathair’s computer has the same files, but it didn’t stop us from freaking out. So glad everything worked out for you. 🙂


    1. I would have completely lost it! That is so great that it didn’t mess up the publishing of the final copy of your book! I would have worried that something would get duplicated, but I am a worrier….
      Thanks so much for stopping by and reading!


  12. OMG! A close escape. Yes, backups count! A friend of mine was writing a book, some years ago – no backup. Computer died. He had to pay to get his hard drive recovered by uber-geek specialists with the right gear. Got the book back and figured he’d better send it in to the publisher. It won one of New Zealand’s top writing awards. I believe he keeps backups these days…


    1. Oh my GOSH!!! I hope he sent those geeks a thank you! I bet he does keep back ups. Back ups for his back ups. That’s where I am. I email my book to myself just in case. That week I was really out of it and didn’t think to do that. Silly me! Never again…
      Thanks Matthew!


  13. I’ve ‘liked’ this post because it was so well written – I felt I was sitting next to you going through the panic! I have had many a heart attack computer moment so I know that terrible wave of fear as you think you may have lost loads of files! Well done for not giving up and I’m so pleased it turned out ok in the end 🙂


    1. Wow! Thank you so much. I had hoped to tell the story with the intense gut wrenching suspense that I went through that day. I couldn’t even go back into my office for two days! It wiped me out. I am soooooo thankful that everything was saved and have backed up everything since!


  14. I think I was holding my breath the whole time I was reading this.
    When my Dad was fighting his last fight he started to write his life story on the computer. As a decorated war Vet and the patriarch of a dozen kids, he did have some stories to tell. He spent months painstakingly tapping out finger by finger every recollection he had from the time he was a wee boy. I offered to help. I could have typed it for him. I could have organized his work for him. Not so secretly, I really just wanted a first hand look at his tale. He was adamant that no one see it until he was finished. I was constantly reminding him to save his work. I think you know where this is headed. One day he called me in a panic that he couldn’t find his story. I told him not to touch anything and I was on my way. After a two hour drive I arrived to find him sitting in his chair hooked up to his oxygen with a total look of despair on his face. I tried everything (a lot like you did). Hours later with tears on my cheeks I had to tell him it was all gone.
    The next day he sat at the computer and started all over again. Unfortunately, he didn’t get far before he lost his last battle.
    I’m really glad you got your files back.


    1. Oh my god, I am so sorry to hear that. Your poor dad.
      Word processors are such a nightmare. I am backing up my book and documents all over the place now. I can’t wait until I have a hard copy sitting my fire file as well! My husband used to print out all of my blogs. I am thinking about copying and pasting them in emails and sending all of them to myself. I only have 250!!!!
      Thanks for stopping by to read and share.


  15. OMG! I was right there with you through every heart pounding word. I’m so glad you found the files. P.S. i can’t believe you edited so many pages that fast. You r smokin’ fast! P.P.S. LOL on the cake and cookies. I’m such an emotional eater. Chocolate is the only thing that can get me through those bad writing days.



    1. I made a chocolate zucchini cake last night!
      Thanks so much Nia! It was hard to relive. I couldn’t even open my laptop for two days. I just can’t believe how lucky I am. Now I back up EVERYTHING!!!! 🙂


  16. It’s happened to all of us, I guess. And it’s funny that I’m reading this post today, because just yesterday I bought a 16GB jump drive (or whatever they’re calling it this week). I have some backing up to do. Thanks, Susie! I’m happy and relieved for you.


    1. Thanks Charles! I am happy and relieved for me too! You might want to invest in a terabyte of external memory if your computer also holds photos. 16 GBs will hold a ton of documents. 🙂


  17. This post had ME shaking. That feeling that comes over you when you think to yourself “All my crap is gone!?” is horror story madness squared. I have to admit I snuck to the end to make sure all was well because I was literally gritting my teeth. Glad to know your lost was found.


    1. I worried that the suspense and gut-wrenching fight that took place over 6 hours wouldn’t be understood, so I am glad to hear that! It made me cringe in the re-telling.
      Thanks Cayman. So am I!


  18. OH MAN WHAT A GOOD REMINDER! I already back my stuff up on Carbonite, and have my WIP on Dropbox — but I’m going to go put it on a thumb drive too!! Good for you for sticking with this, figuring it out and not just dumping it at the computer store with tears in your eyes (as I probably would have).


    1. Thanks so much! It is an understatement to say I was relieved. The surprise was how bad I felt for the next 48 hours. I couldn’t shake it until I sat down and wrote another story two days later! I had to get back on the horse!


  19. I had to share this. I literally killed my old PC tower today, in your honor. I had it stored away for no other reason than I was too lazy to take it to the Waste Mgmt facility. So I murdered the SOB, blood simple. With an aluminum baseball bat. It’s amazing how neighbors will congregate to watch such a thing.


  20. Instead of going to Best Buy, check 1st – prices may be way better.
    Also, do know that freeing up disk space may not free up memory, they are two different things.
    Disk space is where things are saved.
    Memory (RAM) is where the computer stores things briefly when it’s working.
    If your computer is not maxed out, a new set of RAM chips is not that expensive and fairly easy to install or your IT guy can do it.
    And, YES, I have lost many important documents (as well as video game saves which are crucial!).


  21. Back awaaaaay from the computer, girl, and go have a cookie. (I neurotically mail myself a copy of everything I write. I re-mail myself after every edit. After reading this, I am going to go re-mail everything to myself again.)


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