As it turns out, this is good advice for all types, creative and otherwise. It is especially good advice with regards to things which are irreplaceable and things which hadn't occurred to you to back up. Obviously, I'm not speaking in hypotheticals here and the worst part is, I had a warning of sorts just last week.
I will always have a special place in my heart for the Korg DW 8000 synthesizer. It's the one I lusted for in high school and I've owned probably a half dozen of them over the years. The one I have now has been with me for over a decade so I've had a chance to really dial in the settings and get the sounds just right.
I took it in to Switched On last week to get the firmware upgraded and went ahead and changed the battery that allowed it to save settings when turned off. I panicked slightly on hearing this, afraid that all of my lovely settings had been lost. Fortunately, the good folks at Switched On know their stuff and everything was as it had been. According to the tech, I'd been very close to losing everything as the battery was on its last legs. This is what is often referred to as "foreshadowing."
Last night, I was messing around with it and for some reason, I decided I should check to make sure the upgrade completed. This is exactly the sort of thing that got Orpheus in trouble. I didn't fare quite that badly, but it was close.
This being an old piece of gear, the way you check the version is by turning it on while holding two particular buttons on the front panel. I held down the 5 and the 8, turn it on, and....no version number popped up. I tried it a couple more times and got the same result. Then I pressed one of the keys and....silence.
It turns out that, had I looked it up again to make sure I remembered it properly, I would have found that the keys to hold down to get the firmware version were the 1 and the 2. 5 and 8, on the other hand, erase everything. All 88 patches gone. That dark, warbling organ sound that was so close to the one The The use on "Love Is Stronger Than Death?" Gone.
The silver lining is that I've had to learn some stuff. The DW is from back in the days of yore when synths were just learning to talk to computers. It's actually designed to backup and restore its data using a cassette tape. I do not have a cassette tape. Fortunately a laptop makes a pretty good cassette tape substitute was I was able to track down a site that had the stock sounds saved as a .wav file. Just run a line from the laptop's headphone jack to the "tape in" port on the keyboard, play the .wav file, and, holy cats! It worked.
Of course, they're not my sounds, but at least there are sounds. So that's a start. I should be able to use a MIDI interface to load other people's sounds (and by "should," I mean, "absolutely can if I can get it figured out"). I may not want those sounds, but I want to know how to do it so I can then back mine up. It's not that hard; I'm just not familiar with the tools of the trade and, remember, we're talking about a synthesizer that celebrated its 30th birthday several years ago.
So, yeah. Fred's reminder about backing things up applies to everything. If it's important to you, back it up. Automate it so you can't not back stuff up. That's the lesson. Silver linings are great, but cloudless skies are even better.