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Computer Crash during a translation job - what to do now?
Thread poster: JTurner

Local time: 22:12
English to German
+ ...
Mar 22, 2011


what would you do if your computer crashed (and it won't work anymore), but you're facing a deadline and really need to get on with that translation?

This has NOT happened to me (yet), but I was just wondering if you were completely screwed in such a situation?

Any experience or thoughts?

Thanks in advanceicon_smile.gif



Heidi Fayolle  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:12
French to German
Normally no problem Mar 22, 2011

I always save my work on an USB stick, so that I can continue on my laptop where I always keep my files, glossaries etc. up to date.


Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Member (2002)
+ ...
Some precautious steps Mar 22, 2011

Hi Jenny,

It's always a good idea to make a backup of all files as often as possible, e.g. at the end of the day. This would ensure that you have only lost one single day. Of course, you can also make backups every hour or as often as you want to.

Another good idea is to have a 2nd computer, e.g. a notebook, with the relevant software installed, so you could at least finish your project. Needless to say, you will have to upgrade this this 2nd machine as often as possible (upgrades of Windows, antivirus etc).

Talking about crashes and technical problems, if you can't get online with your usual provider, it might be worth it to invest in an emergency solution. This could be a simple UMTS stick so you could at least get online and deliver the translation in the meantime.

Power failures now and then occure: investing in an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) has helped me many times. It's not only for the power supply, also for filtering heavy variations in the voltage which might occur during thunderstorms.



Francisco Paredes Maldonado  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
Backup computer & Dropbox Mar 22, 2011

So far I haven't had the misfortune of my computer borking in the middle of a project (/touch wood), but here's my contingency plan in case something of the sort ever happens.

First of all, I keep a second computer at hand for exactly this sort of situation. In my case, it's an oldish laptop with a keyboard that is a nightmare to type on and a diminutive screen, but it does the job in a pinch and it's got all the essential translation software installed. If the need arises, I can get it up and running in two minutes flat.

If you have an old but functional laptop lying around (a desktop is fine too, if a bit slower to set up), I would heartily recommend dusting it off for this purpose and installing the software you regularly use. For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure Microsoft Office lets you install the same copy on two computers and you usually get an extra license for a laptop when you buy SDL Trados, so unless you're using pretty exotic software it's not even terribly problematic license-wise.

The second weapon in my arsenal is a Dropbox account, which basically lets you back up around 2 GB worth of data to an online server and synchronise it between computers. In my case, I use it to keep a current backup of all the translation files and TMs I am currently working with. That way, if I need to switch to my backup computer, my latest files get downloaded automatically and I can get back to work straight away.

So far this system has worked pretty well for me and, even though my desktop computer has never caused trouble so far, being able to quickly switch to a laptop has already proven very useful in a number of occasions, giving me the freedom to continue working on the move at a moment's notice.

Anyway, there go with tuppence. Hope this helps!


Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:12
Swedish to English
+ ...
Contact details on paper Mar 22, 2011

In addition to the good advice above about saving your work in progress on a memory stick or a second computer, I would also suggest keeping your customer contact details on paper, so that in the event of a crash you can contact the customer quickly. Then go to a nearby Internet cafe and send any work in progress to the customer


David Wright  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:12
German to English
+ ...
Your local expert Mar 22, 2011

In addition to back ups etc, which are vital, it's useful to find out in advance where the guy/gal who can recover the contents of your harddisk lives and sound him/her out. I live in a tiny village in the middle of the Austrian countryside, but have a computer expert three houses away. he has proved extremely valuable despite backups (cos even one day's work is a lot, and can normally be recovered by someone who knows what he is doing)


Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
English to Estonian
+ ...
Cloud backup Mar 22, 2011

I keep all my projects in dropbox folder (50GB is about 10 USD a month + 3 USD for "Timemachine" feature, so I could restore previous versions of saved files - useful when the TTX-file gets corrupted all of a sudden etc.).

Dropbox is folder in your computer and whatever you put in it, gets uploaded to internet and other computers you use right away. If you press save in Tageditor, then you have file in the computer you're working with, online and in any other computer you want.

And if your computer dies, just get a new one, install Office+Trados (2 hours max), install dropbox and sync it (depends on your internet connection) and you have a new working system ready with losing max 1 workday.

Same thing about web browsers; for instance Opera syncs all bookmarks and settings.

I started to look for cloud backup, when I was traveling and thought about people stealing my computer or HDD with years of work in iticon_smile.gif

My setup is following:

Macbook Pro - dropbox syncs/sends files to web & Dell PC, opera syncs bookmarks from web, for emergency use WIN 7 is installed on separate volume, e-mail is backed up locally.

Dell PC - dropbox syncs/sends files to web & MbPro, opera syncs bookmarks from web, this is my main translation machine, e-mail is backed up locally again.

iPhone - dropbox in installed and I can open xls, doc, rtf, pdf etc. files (including all translation projects) from my dropbox if needed, Exchange and IMAP mail accounts provide search and I often reply to e-mails on my phone.

I keep all my translation projects in Dropbox folder (or at least copies of it), also other important files (pricelists) and even program installers (trados, office copy, dictionaries etc.).

I had a computer problem in January and I was up and running a system again in a day (Y) like nothing had happened.

...and....sometimes copy everything to a separate backup HDD (320GB is about 40-60 USD) and keep it somewhere safeicon_smile.gif


T.E.E.T.  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:12
Dutch to French
+ ...
RAID Mar 22, 2011

Since it happened to me some years ago, I always invest in computers with 2 hard drives, set up in RAID 1 mode (mirror).
Apart from that, I also keep a second computer synchronized, just in case.
Buying an empty case for an external hard drive (less than 15 EUR) allowed me to put one of the HD of the crashed computer in it, so I could read it's content on the back-up computer (the 2 hard drives rarely crash at the same time). It may sound complicated, but with the correct screwdriver at hand, it takes less than 10 minutes to be fully operational again.
Hope this might help.
In any case, as it is our main if not only "tool", investing in professional hardware is a must.


Local time: 22:12
English to German
+ ...
THANKS for all your answers! Mar 22, 2011

Thank you for all your answers. They are really helpfull.
I especially like the idea with that dropbox. Sounds quite handy and easy!

Again thank you very muchicon_smile.gif


Egidijus Slepetys  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:12
German to Lithuanian
Total computer crash recently Mar 22, 2011

It happened ~3 weeks ago. I didn't do anything unusual. Just wanted to restart Windows and the laptop didn't start anymore. Nothing on the screen, definitely a main-board fault.

The problem in my case was not about backups - the hard drive was ok (and I had also an external hard drive for backups). The problem was about deadlines. I was working on several big projects, so I needed to push the deadlines. Luckily the translation agencies had some buffer time.

To get a new laptop delivered took me 2 days, to set it up - 1 day. I missed all the deadlines with this "lame" excuse about a computer crash and I am still not sure, whether some clients (there were some new clients among them) will work with me again. Still, I did my best, all the work was done (at my standard good quality) and delivered. If some clients don't want to work with me again, I will have to get a new once, this is a business with losses and discoveries.


Local time: 22:12
English to German
+ ...
@ Egidijus Slepetys Mar 22, 2011

"To get a new laptop delivered took me 2 days, to set it up - 1 day. I missed all the deadlines with this "lame" excuse about a computer crash and I am still not sure, whether some clients (there were some new clients among them) will work with me again."

This is exactly my - and I guess also everybody's - nightmare!

I was thinking that maybe you could rent a laptop somewhere in order to save some time until your new one is delivered.


christeld  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:12
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Repair, retrieve and make backup copies! Mar 22, 2011

Whilst I second what previous posters said regarding backups, I understand that it may be too late to make backup copies if your computer has already experienced a hardware fault and no recent backups were taken before this point.

Do you have any idea of what the problem may be? Is it software (eg. can you restore to a earlier point, can you run start-up repair or similar?) or is it a hardware fault preventing the computer from booting up? (Can you get into the BIOS? Can you run any diagnostics? If so, what do they tell you?)

If the latter I would recommend contacting a local repair shop (or several) to see if there's anyone who can have a look for you today.

Provided they can repair it, alternatively retrieve your data, you would just have to try do your best to catch up and, if necessary, explain to your clients what's causing any delay. Failing that, there are services specialising in retrieving data from hard drives (they will also attempt to retrieve and copy data off faulty hard drives) however, this usually has a much longer turn around time and can be quite costly.

That said, I fully recommend backing your data up -- my desktop is setup as RAID and everything is mirrored between the hard drives, however, I also sync any files in progress with my laptop. In addition I back files up both to an external hard drive and to a co-located server at a data centre.

The reason I co-locate a server for this purpose is purely because I am loathe to backup any data which may be confidential on third-party hardware or software, however, plenty of people are happy enough to use third-party solutions for online backups.

Best of luck!


Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
English to Estonian
+ ...
Just deal with the crisis :) Mar 22, 2011

1) Get a cheap used computer from any local used computer shop etc. and order the one you really want.
2) Complete the urgent project.
3) When your new computer is delivered, just sell the old one off on ebay or where ever for ~30% less than what you paid for it to get rid of it quickly and easily or just keep it.

=client is happy and you have a new computer with minimal disturbances in workflowicon_smile.gif

You can certainly get a workable used computer for 300 USD or so.

I did this trick once when I was still living in Estonia and I can say that even when talking about European high priced electronics, the loss from "temporary computer approach" is still MUCH less than losing a good client.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Prevention Mar 22, 2011

Hardware may be replaced, your data is unlikely. So I take several disaster-preemptive measures.

1. Independent hard drives: One for OS & software and another for data files. If needed, I can move that data-containing physical HD to another computer and continue there.

2. Hard drive integrity: I periodically run SpinRite on my hard drives to ensure their ability to keep all my data safe.

3. Backup computer: I have my wife's old computer (now she uses a notebook), equivalent to mine, the difference being mine uses an Intel processor, while hers is an equivalent AMD; no big deal. The most essential software is installed there, and it's ready to have my data hard disk plugged.

4. Cannibalization: Once my computer's power supply died suddenly. I simply replaced it with the one taken from the backup computer. Took less than 10 minutes. After the job was delivered, I bought a new PS.

5. Spare monitor: I didn't discard my old CRT monitor. It's simply stashed away, and can be hooked back to my system in a few minutes.

6. Spare keyboard/mice: I don't let the keyboard go past agony state before replacing it, and keep the old one. If the worst happens, I can move to an agonizing but still functional one. A few old mice are still around here.

7. IMAP e-mail service: All my e-mail is not here, but in some overly redundant service, which has been offline for less than 4 hours or so throughout the past 12 years.

8. Neighbors' Wi-Fi: Several neighbors in the building have wireless networks I could use (or they could use mine) in case of an emergency. Though my computer is hardwired to the router, I have a USB receiver I could plug in.

There are a few others, but the above are the most relevant.


christeld  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:12
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Computer rentals Mar 22, 2011


Companies doing computer rentals certainly do exist, there's a fair few in the UK, though I am unsure if any hire them out for periods shorter than 1 month (which seems to average at around £49 per calendar month).

I'm sure there's similar services available in Germany.


Hope that helps!

[Edited at 2011-03-22 12:57 GMT]

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