Dependence on technology

I have fully embraced technology ever since my childhood, when my father brought home a BBC Acorn computer. Everything in our lives is now technology based, but after a recent event I have re-evaluated how intrinsically my life is  weaved with technology. My conclusion is that technology is wonderful when it works but can be catastrophic when it fails and frequent back ups to cloud storage are the best safeguards, just have a strong password for security.

Recently my 6 year old Sony Vaio laptop was showing signs of wear by freezing just at the moment I needed to work, or needing constant registry maintenance.  My husband felt sorry for me and as an early Christmas gift, brought me a lovely HP Pavillion notebook last week.

I opened the box, powered it up and beamed at how fast it booted up, I then spent an evening uploading all the software I needed and installed my pro version of windows 10 and left it to run the updates overnight.

Everything was going well, so well that when a new client asked me to run their payroll for the end of the week I said ‘yes’ thinking that I have a nice shiny laptop that works super fast and I can do all the work needed for payroll and my other clients, what could go wrong… Everything.

The back up data for Sage payroll which was supplied by the previous payroll company, would not interface with my version of Sage, so I had to manually input all the payroll data, which took just an afternoon to do.

Just as I had completed a data back up to the cloud storage of my manually entered payroll data, my nice new HP Pavilion started to act odd. Some of the keys would not respond when clicked and then all of a sudden half the keyboard stopped responding totally. After a call to HP they said they would collect it the next day for repair, but it would take 7 days. I was concerned at being without a laptop for a week, especially as I had a new payroll to run! HP then advised me to return the laptop back to the store where it was purchased, but I would need to wipe my data first.

It was 6pm at this point and the store was open till 8pm. ‘Not a problem’ I thought, ‘I can wipe the data, swap it for a new laptop and spend the rest of the night uploading my software and configuring updates, after all I have my data from the payroll saved in the cloud so it will be easy enough to get the payroll done on time’… if only.

I started the data wipe and kept my eye on the clock, watching the percentage of completion slowly count up towards 100%. It took an hour to get to 40% so still optimistic I sat in front of the laptop with the original box at the ready, to pack it up and return.  By 8pm it was only on 52%, no possibility of getting it back to store for a swap, it would have to wait for the morning.

I’m a optimistic-pessimistic person; I hope for the best but plan for the worst. That philosophy has stood me in good stead in the past and with that thought, I decided to email my client from my iPad, to advise them I was having a technical issue but would try my best to complete the payroll on time.

The following morning, I took the children to school and went to my local computer store to get a replacement. It went well enough at the store, just a short wait, and an hour later I was back home taking a new HP Pavilion out of the box and booting it up.

The laptop updated itself with the latest versions of windows 10, which is lovely operating system, but I wanted to get on with my work as it as 10am. As well as payroll I also had work that needed finishing for another client where I needed to produce a trial balance and take a box of paperwork to their accountant for signing off before the weekend.

I looked at my schedule and realised that if my laptop was not up and running by 11:30am I would not have time to get the payroll completed in time. With a heavy heart I had to concede that for the first time in my bookkeeping career, I would not get a job done.  Its a horrible feeling, made no better when having to inform a new client that you can not complete their work. A balance sheet can wait but peoples wages certainly can not.

I emailed the client who was very understanding and then contacted the previous company who had been completing the payroll until their handover to me. The company were very good and agreed to do one more payroll for the client. I have never felt such relief after putting a phone down.

The pressure was off but it was 5:30pm before I had a laptop that was all up to date and with all the Sage software loaded. It took another hour to sync my files with the cloud storage.

My grateful thoughts are that most of my files were stored in the cloud and not on the laptops directly. When I opened up my internet program I was pleased to see that all my favourite sites had been saved to my favourites bar and although I had to reset passwords for the majorty of them, it wasn’t to onerous.

I am thankful that I was previously using a windows 10 operating system, as all my data had been automatically saved to the cloud. If I had been using a previous version of windows, I know I would have lost the lot, unless I had been taking frequent back ups of my data, and really who does that regularly, if at all.

I have since re-evaluated my dependence on desk based accounting software, its ok and many people prefer to have it on their system rather than floating in the internet sky. Personally I much prefer the efficiency of cloud based accounting. It also means that if this laptop should fail or just as worst, be stolen; at least I can continue to manage most of my clients online.