What was the worst tech mistake you fixed?

Those times you overwrote a file and hit save, only to remember right after you saved that you didn't duplicate the original document first. The times you pushed to production without checking the code, and brought down the whole site. The updates you installed before checking if your critical software would still work.

Tech can go wrong in a million ways. And to meet each crisis, there are another million ways to fix things, bring them back, pull halfway hidden features together to save the day.

Sometimes bad luck can be reversed. What were the the best ways you saved the day in tech, figured out a way to solve a problem, avert a crisis, and keep the computers humming along smoothly?

#Google Docs #WordPress
maguay's avatar

Not the worst problem ever, but there was this one time that's stuck out to me for years and made me more cautious about both deleting files and backing up content.

I'd opened a file—an essay for a university assignment, if I remember correctly—and used it as a template, overwriting the copy and adding in all new stuff. Then, instead of clicking Save as... and making a new copy of the file, I just saved it then closed Word.

Then it hit me I'd overwritten the original file, a file I still needed and had put time into, and it had just now disappeared into the ether. And of course I didn't have a backup.

That's when I figured out Windows Vista had a Previous Versions feature, something newer versions of Windows have kept and that macOS has had with Time Machine's snapshots. I used that to pull back a several-days-old copy of the original file. Crisis averted.

Backups are still great—and still something I'm as apt to forget to keep up to date as anything—but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for previous versions of files. And as the world has moved to SaaS and web apps, previous versions of files in apps like Google Docs is often the only backup we can easily get.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @maguay )

A similar issue that still doesn't have quite as good of a solution: Typing content into a web form—a WordPress or other CMS blog post editor, an email or writing or notes web app, or even the comment box a site like Capiche—and then it disappearing when you click Submit. It's happened far too often to me: I've written full blog posts in the CMS editor, hit Publish, only for the internet connection to be flakey or the site to auto-log me out at random, eating the post in the process.

So, I mostly only trust writing in web apps when the app has a previous versions/history tool such as Google Docs and Notion. Otherwise, for anything longer or more substantial, I'll type in a local writing app, then copy and paste back into the web app. It's just safer. Or, I'll type online but copy the text before submitting; worst case, I can pull the copy from my clipboard history.

The tools to help here are a clipboard manager to keep track of everything you've copied, and a plain text writing app to type stuff up quickly without needing to think about files and such. Also, worst case, if you do find yourself having lost content online, sometimes the back button will restore it, sometimes the auto-suggest text will have remembered what you typed. It's worth trying anyhow.

1 point
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