Back up your phones, people. Just do it.

I’ve been having some issues lately with my iPhone. I’m constantly running out of storage, so I find I’m having to delete photos and movies and text messages in order to make space for new data. Even more annoying is that I am neither receiving texts from certain contacts nor successfully sending texts to others. Specifically, there is one friend at work, with whom I have a long, successful history of texting, who cannot send texts to me anymore. When I look at her phone screen, I can clearly see the evidence of the message she sent to me. But on mine—nothing. Weird, right?

Also, just this past week I have been notified by at least three people that texts I sent and thought had been received, were in fact, not. I have since sent several replies to messages with no response back. This then leaves me wondering: Did the contact receive the text and then just get busy and forget to reply back? Did the message not get sent? What the hell.

I consulted our wise babysitter, Candace, a wealth of all kinds of information, and she replied with a few troubleshooting questions:

Have you deleted messages lately? Sure, you already taught me that trick.

Have you backed up your phone? Who actually has time to do this?

Turned it off and on again recently? What? That’s an option?

Installed the latest software? What version would that be again?

When I realized the answer to almost all of these questions was no, I decided I needed to get to work addressing my problems. This morning, about a half hour before I was due to leave to take my oldest to school, and then drive to school myself, was probably not the best time to decide to plug my iphone into my laptop for the first time in—oh, I don’t know—nine months? A year? What? No judiging.

So, it starts doing its update thing, the little line moving across the phone to show the progress of the latest install. I was watching the clock, sensing I’d have to leave the phone home for the day, as it wouldn’t be finished in time for us to leave, when all of a sudden iTunes reports that an error has occurred and it can’t finish the install. WTF? I disconnected the phone, stuffed it in my pocket, and shoved my personal laptop into my school bag (I never bring this computer to school, but it seemed this situation could quickly escalate into an emergency).

At school I tried to restart my iPhone, but it is and has been stuck with this lovely little image of a power cord and a red iTunes graphic on the screen. Very pretty, but not so functional. When I plug the phone back into my laptop, iTunes tell me that the phone appears to be in recovery mode—duh!—and will need to be restored to its original factory settings. Like I said—emergency.

This wouldn’t be an issue at all—if—like a good tech consumer I had made a backup, like EVER. The last backup of my photos appears to have taken place sometime in the spring of 2011, when my oldest was a newborn. Awesome. So responsible of me.

I called the number for the local Apple people at our mall to ask them if the restore was my only option. Wasn’t there some sort of magical device they could hook my phone up to, to make all the data come back to life? The tech guy, complete with a Texas draw—are you sure this is the Apple Store in the mall in Lancaster, Pennsylvania?— told me no, that this was the only option available to the Apple tech people too. Some geniuses they purport to be.

My husband has counseled me not to touch anything until we see someone in person. I looked online for data recovery programs and there are some out there. Will they steal my identity though? Are they legit? I have no idea. I might be willing to try. It’s only a matter of time, anyway, before the current hacking groups get ahold of their next target, surely some online system of which I’m part, and do their damage.

After all of this, I think I am most troubled by the fact that I am more concerned about my lack of being able to use my iPhone than the impending loss of data. A whole three years’ worth of precious photos and videos gone? Meh. What’s that compared with not being able to check e-mail, weather, news, do blogging, Facebook, texting, and the myriad of other apps I use daily to distract me from work,  parenting, writing, or relaxing?

This is an emergency. I hope I can figure it out soon!

Update: This evening I drove to the mall to talk to the Apple people. Essentially, they told me the same thing, in person, that the cowboy said on the phone. So, I went out to my car, resigned to do the restore, and lose all the photos in the process.

Instead of driving home, though, I decided to sit in the parking lot. I remembered—how, without my phone, I don’t know—that I had a midwife appointment nearby in less than an hour. I tried to pick up a wireless connection, did, and set about restoring my phone.

You can imagine my excitement when, after the restore finished, one of the backup options mentioned 7:18 this morning. The Texan had assured me that I had no backup on my account. Yes! I thought hopefully, please work. Ten minutes into the twenty-minute process, I decided to turn on the car and listen to the radio. I didn’t start up the engine, since gas was low, but turned the key just to get the volume going.

After ten minutes of listening to the news, the phone finished, restarted and—I had all my photos back the way they were this morning, when all was nearly well, minus the whole mis-texting fiasco. Wahoo!

I started the engine, or attempted to, with fifteen minutes to go before my appointment, and—nothing. The car battery was dead. This was turning out to be quite the day. Instead of calling my husband and asking him to meet me (he’d likely just returned home from my parents’ house with the girls), I decided to run back into the mall, where my brother happens to work and was working, and ask to borrow his car.

On the way back in I realized I had to pee—badly. However, I usually give a urine sample first thing at the office, so I didn’t want to lose my sample to the mall restroom. I decided to hold it. After my brother graciously agreed to loan me his car, and walk me to it, I discovered he’d parked as far as possible from the location of his store, where we were at the time. So, we had to book it to the opposite end of the mall. I had only eight minutes to spare at this point, and was dangerously close to having an accident in the Sears wing.

As we were walking he began to tell me about the car I’d be driving:

The thing is, the door handles don’t work. So, you have to unlock the car with the key, I’ll show you how to do that. Then you have to hold down this button here to make the windows go down. But, you can’t let them go down the whole way or else they’ll fall off the track and we won’t be able to get them back up. So the window goes down halfway, right, and then you reach inside the door to open the handle that way. Then, when you get in the car, you can just roll the windows up.

Piece of fucking cake. Totally brilliant day this is turning out to be. Could it get any better? I get into the car without losing a window, thankfully, and discover the gas tank is on empty. The kind of empty where the mileage range is nearly single digit and the yellow light is definitely on and in effect. I drove normal speeds to the appointment (the office was only a mile away or so) but I still felt a few times like the wheels were going to fall off and I was losing power steering. How the hell does he drive that thing around safely?

Don’t worry, he assured me later, the parts are coming. I hope the parts include a new car, because that thing is a piece of shit. Sorry, bro.

I got to the appointment with a minute to spare. Amazingly, my blood pressure was normal. My pants were dry. The baby’s head was down, heartbeat strong, and was moving around like crazy. I drove the shitbox back to my house at a mere 20 mph, after I put a little gas in the tank. Liam and I packed up the girls in our car, headed back to the mall, and jumped our other car. Thankfully Liam knows how to do this and do it well (his old car had battery issues, so he’s an expert by now). On top of everything else, I just couldn’t fathom adding electrocution of husband to the stress and anxiety of this day.

We got the car back home, left our SAFE van for my brother to drive back to our place after he finished work. And, only moments ago, my brother came to claim the keys for that rickshaw of a vehicle he calls his car. I hope he texts me when he gets home. Of course, if the texting problem isn’t fixed, I may never know and will stay up worrying about him half the night.

So, after all of this, what lesson have I learned? If I would have just backed up my phone, none of this would have ever happened. Amen, amen.


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