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March 22, 2023

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Tory's 5 Day Disaster

For the past five days, I’ve been in a total meltdown after I accidentally pulled the power cord from my Mac.

No sweat, I thought. I figured maybe I’d lose all the stuff I’d been working on, which was bad enough. Then I plugged it back in and discovered that every one of my emails – thousands of them – since February had vanished.

Whoosh! Gone in a flash.

A friggin’ nightmare doesn’t even begin to explain it. Between emails regarding Women For HireSpark & HustleGood Morning America, ABC News Now, my upcoming book, speeches and appearances, Emma and Jake’s camp, you know the drill. Everything. Every. Single. Thing.

I receive and respond to literally hundreds of emails a day, everyday, and to lose all of them (on the eve of Memorial Day weekend no less) was a total shock. Beyond unnerving. It was a thunderbolt.

The insult to injury came early on when I called the folks at Microsoft to figure out how I could get my emails back. Surely there’s a way, I thought. The first thing the technical agent asked: “Don’t you have a backup?”

“No,” I said, icily, “If I had a backup I wouldn’t be calling you now, would I?”

My Mac spent the entire Memorial Day weekend with data recovery specialists, who failed at this mission, but managed to charge me thousands of dollars for the emergency service anyway.

It’s now downtown at another place that fixed another computer of mine at one point — and I’m hoping for the best with this one. I should know my fate in a few days.

At our Spark & Hustle conferences this spring, SurePayroll chief Michael Alter reminded our attendees that when – not IF – you make a mistake, it’s essential to learn from it – and correct it quickly. I hear you, Michael, loud and clear.

A generous grant this spring from Julie and Jack Nadel helped hundreds of aspiring women entrepreneurs attend Spark & Hustle. On page 89 of his book, Use What You Have To Get What You Want, Nadel, the promotional products giant, says, “A mistake made once is human. The same mistake made twice is stupid.”

Even though this is a first, I feel pretty dumb right now.  I keep reminding myself to keep it in perspective. If losing three months of emails is the worst thing imaginable, then I’m doing just fine.  (Why is that so much easier to SAY than to FEEL?) True disaster, as we all know, has absolutely nothing to do with losing computer files. For every dollar I have to spend to fix this, I’ll double it in contributions to victims of the true disasters in Missouri and Massachusetts. And, I’ll be proud to share those results with you.

In the meantime, as I figure out the best backup options for me, I’d love to know what’s worked well for you. Tell me on my Facebook page.

And, while you’re there, feel free to tell me your Plan B too.

Not one of my finest moments, that’s for sure. Here’s to brighter days ahead.

Tory Johnson


  1. Lauren F


    I am very surprised that you, as a woman who depends on the Internet for her business, do not have an email back-up system. I think that is short-sighted on your part.

    I am also discouraged by your use of hyperbole – disaster and friggin’ nightmare seem out of context, given the natural disasters people all over the country are experiencing this week. Imagine if all they lost was their email.

    If there was a hole in the middle of my house and one day I fell in that hole, I would have no one to blame but myself.

    Lauren F.

  2. Hi Tory,
    I’ve put in a call to my IT guy to find out what he recommends. In the meantime, I’ve saved all the emails I’ve sent and received from you. My guess is that others have too. I would certainly think GMA and other companies you’ve worked for have archived all their correspondence with you. Could you ask them to make it available to you?

  3. Hi Tory, SO sorry to hear such dreaded email news.
    Here’s what I do for my business, besides having an external back up that updates every night. I use 4 Macs, 3 are desktop & 1 is a laptop. 3 Macs are set up to receive all the same emails and 2 receive only selected emails. This is very helpful because then I also have access to whatever I want where ever I am. If emails are deleted, they can still be found on another computer even if back up has failed.
    Don’t know if this is a smart approach, but so far so good.
    Hope this helps…

  4. Dear Tory,
    Have you checked with your e-mail provider? There might, at least, be a few days worth of e-mails out on their server. Also, I appreciate your perspective and promise of a donation to disaster victims. Good luck!

  5. I use a back-up service offsite. I think off-site is important in case there is a fire or weather related disaster.

  6. PAF

    I believe you can reset yout computer back to a specific date. In your case the day before the problem began. This should then reset your computer to what it looked like that day. I needed to do this once a long time ago. It worked. Good Luck!

  7. Kathy

    For personal use I use hotmail and gmail. That way I can access them anywhere, anytime. For work I would check with my internet service provider. I have a backup drive for my business documents, but not sure if this works for e-mail.

  8. JS

    Interesting comments from Lauren F. Her criticisms of Tory are harsh, so I’m assuming Lauren makes no mistakes and is perfect. She felt that Tory’s use of the words “disaster” and “nightmare” were inappropriate, given the natural disasters people are experiencing now. Yes, life is and always has been full of horrifying, traumatic events, but that doesn’t discount the fact that we have day to day difficulties we experience that affect us in a profound way, causing a dramatic response from us. I’m sure Tory would never compare her difficulties to those who are experiencing devastation, but she certainly is a normal human being when she reacts dramatically to something messy and difficult in her daily life. To blow off something like what she experienced would be abnormal.

    Lauren’s next comment: “If there was a hole in the middle of my house and one day I fell in that hole, I would have no one to blame but myself.” indicates that she thinks Tory was not blaming herself. Lauren must not have fully read Tory’s article. The last three paragraphs of the article are full of Tory’s admission that she made a huge mistake, even describing herself as “stupid” and “dumb” regarding what she did.

  9. Susan LaBonte

    So sorry for the stress you are going thru. No fun! Sounds like more than just a plug mishap since all your data was wiped out. Lots of good suggestions on retrieving and there has to be a solution besides getting your hard drive back and the expense of it. Most email providers keep backups for a period of time so press them on this. I have gone to web based email with limited data storage but it forces me to keep the most important emails and delete the rest and I can access from any device, anywhere even on a borrowed computer. All the best…

  10. Terry

    Oh my gosh – so sorry to hear about your computer troubles. It is maddening when that type of thing happens…especially in the type of work that you do. I hope you find some of the information. Perhaps you have emailed your article drafts, etc to a colleague and maybe they have it in their “inbox”? Best wishes.

  11. Becky Siebenthaler

    Tory, thank you for being a real person and hanging the raggedy underwear of a very famous woman out on the line for the world to see! It makes me appreciate even more how much you’ve accomplished and gives even more validity to your work because we know you’re one of us.

    My PC desktop has had the ‘blue screen blues’ for 2-1/2 months now, and I’ve been having the same email meltdown you have (except that I’ve been unemployed for over a year and don’t have any money to throw at the problem right now). Fortunately, I have a laptop that I’ve been working on since then, and all my husband’s QuickBooks client information for last year had been entered on it instead of on the desktop.

    I also have an external, portable hard drive for my occasional desktop document backups, and a flash drive that contains all of my dad’s stuff (I’m his caregiver) and stays in my purse. But I know there were quite a few emails and a lot of other data that I didn’t get backed up to any physical drive before ‘the crash’.

    If I ever gain access to my desktop again, I subscribe to Symantec’s Norton 360 Pro and have ‘cloud’ backups that are run automatically – but they won’t download to a different computer.

    You’re so right – shame on me. I know better – I’ve had plenty of experience with gremlins. But I didn’t make the time to protect myself against them. Now they’re one of several “cosmic 2x4s” that have had to hit me upside the head lately to get my attention. Believe me, I’m doing my best to listen more carefully!

    Good luck with everything, and don’t worry about those who are too tightly wound to relate.

  12. Tory,
    I’m so sorry to hear about this and I feel your pain. I had two laptops completely die on me on in less than 14 months and I felt exactly the same way you do now so here are a some tips:

    1.Stop beating yourself up. There’s enough people out there in the world ready to do that for you. We all make mistakes and we have to learn from them. You’re getting a good education.

    -Jacqueline Butler mentioned that she saved her correspondence with you. I’m sure others have as well. I would send out an email or make some calls letting your colleagues know that this has happened and you might need there help and patience with retrieving info.

    2.In the future, I would use gmail as a backup. I run almost my entire business using google tools and they haven’t failed me yet and gmail is a lifesaver for me.

    3. There’s a very cheap and affordable online backup system that has also saved me at

    4. Lastly I use external flash drives and a 500GB hard drive to back up everything on my computer. It can be a pain at times but it’s worth it.

    5. Your internet company may also be able to help you retrieve some of your content and emails as well.

    Again sorry about the fiasco, but it happens to the best of us and I’m sure you and Michelle will keep the ship going.
    Take care:)

  13. Tara Linda

    Hi Tory,

    I can certainly sympathize. I lost all of my old hard drive in a power loss (9 years of data and research). The hard drive was fried, so it couldn’t be retrieved. My best suggest for email is to get a gmail account. It is free, and you can save everything, so this situation will never happen.
    Then there are other things you can do. Whatever email provider you are using, you could try contacting them to see if your mail could be retrieved.

    I thought I wouldn’t survive my loss of data, but I have. If you can’t get the emails back, I am sure you will be able to adjust.

  14. So sorry to hear of your computer misfortune, Tory; I’m a research scientist and can only imagine what I’d do if I lost all my work like that! Talk about stress!!

    Your friend is indeed correct – learn from the mistake so it hopefully won’t happen again. I’d recommend looking into an A/C powered, ‘software free’ external hard drive (WD has a great 2TB one), then using Acronis True Image backup software to create a full hard drive backup, plus additional scheduled backups at multiple data levels (C:// drive, My Documents, email, etc). Then, since external drives aren’t 100% safe, I’d also sign up for a Carbonite online backup account – at least for the really critical stuff.

    You mention what the tornado victims are going through being so much worse. As a native Alabamian now living in Massachusetts, I can tell you the damage is incomprehensible. My heart breaks for friends and neighbors who’ve lost everything, even their entire towns in some cases! It is going to take the collective effort of this entire country to rebuild these communities – the job is just simply too big, and too extensive. We have to unite as one. That’s exactly what myself and a team of organizers hope to do through a series of benefit concerts called UNITED SONG, bringing together top entertainment and sports celebrities with America’s youth to help rebuild. For more information go to (if not available, keep checking back…we’re still under construction), or to donate directly, visit The Josh Willingham Foundation, Thank you!

    And best of luck with getting your lost emails back!!

    Renea Gooch
    Boston, MA

  15. Dear Tory,

    As a long-time mac user, I have tried all kinds of back-up systems, most of which have failed at the critical moment I need them.

    My mac guru has put each of my computers on both, Apple’s cloud system, and a separate hard drive. Both of them automaticially back up as we go.

    Having had several melt downs, I’ve learned that trusting one back up alone is not fail safe. A combination of local and cloud is a robust alternative.

    Your email server probably keeps emails you haven’t deleted for quite a while. See if they can send them to you.

    Also check your mac at an Apple store. Running out of juice should not have deleted all your emails. Since the magnetic connection uncouples easily, it’s common to inadvertently pull it apart. I’ve done it many times.

    Most important word of advice: Cut yourself some slack.

    Taunee Besson

  16. sarah

    so sorry to hear…when my computer goes down, I freak out until it’s fixed. I usually call my son,the Mac guy who would have been happy to help you,too. Never hesitate to reach out to all of us who really appreciate you and all that you do,

    All best,

  17. Irene

    Hi Tory-

    I think Lauren F. was having a really bad night and I wouldn’t take her criticism too much to heart. She was indeed, extremely harsh, and I hope she reconsiders that lack of compassion in the future. Everything is relative. One persons disaster is another persons small glitch… Obviously the devestation elsewhere in the country is a major ‘disaster’ in their world, and yet your computer blow up is a disaster in YOUR world.

    You did the right thing taking it to a computer guy you know. I am willing to bet he can get it all back for you. Some techies are absolutely amazing. The ones you paid $5,000 to- not so much. I am shocked that they could not help. What on earth was their excuse?

    Maybe try thinking of this event as a ‘nudge’ that you are doing too much, moving too fast, and need a little break. So now you have a few days without a computer… I think it’s all going to work out OK! And, you have provided a needed service to ‘nudge’ all the rest of us to get a back up system! 🙂 Hang in there! We’re all behind you!

  18. Tory,

    I do sympathize with you in the loss of your data. Mishaps happen to us all when we least expect it.I have lost the use of my laptop due to the screen blacking out. I know you’ve heard of Murphy’s Law. However, do not beat yourself up you will only make yourself feel worse and this is fixable.

    1. Try to remember to always backup all of your data several times while using your computer.
    2. This is the old fashioned way, however it works I have all e-mail contacts printed out and placed in a notebook as well as backed up. You may also want to put e-mail data on a DVD data disc it stores more data.
    3. I have an external TB drive and handheld sandisks to keep important files especially working files.
    4. Your Security software is great for scheduled backups.

    Lastly, disregard any negative comments, if a person doesn’t have anything decent to say or offer any solutions to a concern or a cry for help the comment is worthless. (A good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit)

    You have a great and grand day and think great thoughts you are entitled and greatly worth it. Take care

  19. Yulonda

    Hi Tori, After reading the comments on your disaster, I couldn’t help but chime in. I’ve been there and know the feeling. This too will pass, urrrrr….there, I said it for you. I want to recommend the Seagate external hard-drive that can hold all your information and maybe more than one for each area of business. They are small, can go everywhere and all the women who follow you are more than willing to “resend” there e-mails as suggested by others.

    Have some peppermint tea as you start a chapter on “responding to disappointment” in your new book, :-). Sometimes we forget the people we met on the way up are the same people we see during trials. I am at the beginning of this journey and I felt you as I read your exhale.

    Thank you for showing your human side with grace.

  20. JoannaV

    so sorry to hear of your computer troubles. I have worked from home for the last 13 years and I also learned the hard way that backing up my system was a must.

    Also, for you and your readers, I recently wrestled with a virus that mimics Microsoft Security/Antivirus. It hijacked my browser and prevented my system from accessing the internet, in turn preventing my computer technician from accessing my computer remotely to fix it. This all came as a great surprise to me as I run highly reliable antivirus software and scrub my system on a regular basis.

    The problem was fixed at CompUSA for $119 but I was without my computer for 3 days which seemed like an eternity. I was told that this virus usually comes through Facebook. So, a word of warning about clicking on Facebook Links.

    Good luck with your Mac, Tory. I agree with suggestions above about back up and accessing email from other servers.

    Keep up the great work!

  21. Wow Lauren F is more like Lauren Capital B! Guess you’d never fall into that hole in your house because you’re always looking down your nose at others. The rest of us LOVE you Tory and are wishing the best for you. So sorry this happened.

  22. Elaine

    I do all my emails on Yahoo – personal, volunteer, business, family, and friends. That way it’s always available to me, and anywhere I go. Is there any way you can use Yahoo for your email needs?

  23. Betty Bhasin

    Hi Tory:

    I am sad that this happened to you. And. I am in hopes that those ‘one-time emails,’ that people send to you will
    somehow contact you and you will be able to restore all losses. Suggestion: Establish e phone banking committee
    to call your various networks and circles of friends and have them to contact you. Be at peace, get in your “think
    tank” mode. Ideas will flow and you will know what to do.
    Stay positive. You are about to achieve new levels of success. Wishing you more happiness and a fun Spring.


    Betty Bhasin

  24. BJ

    About a week ago all of my emails in my ATT account were gone. over 220 of them. When I called the offices in reference I was told they didn’t know what happened – so I suggested they do something – because all emails are saved on the host servers. They still claimed they could not, as they do not save on the servers. This I know to be inaccurate because this happened to me a few year ago (when Windows 2007 came out) and they returned all of my emails, at that time. But here is the kicker, and I don’t know if anyone else has observed this but;

    Every time Microsoft come out with another product, a so called up graded version of itself – millions of people began having problems with the blue screen monster, lost emails, inundated with spam and junk mail, etc., as the list goes on.

    Then all of a sudden the sales of Microsoft, Dell and all the others who are collaborators in the software hardware industries sales skyrocket into the stratosphere because literally millions of us have to buy new equipment, get the latest in Microsoft, as the stores will tell you – ‘oh, we don’t carry windows xp anymore,’ and so you’re practically held hostage to purchase a so called advance program of itself that ultimately you’ll have to spend extra money, to buy some extension products, to get your old software product to work.

    This diabolical high powered scaming has gotten out of hand and very few of us pay attention to the circle of computer life and how they increase their sales from our ignorance.

    I hope you all actually take this in, as a friend of mind said, ‘we make tweaked products – not upgraded, and we market as an upgrade because we’ll make millions off of the idea of have advanced technology’. He’s a computer tech and developer at a well known software development firm.

    Much Love and Light to all who see this.

  25. D. Daniel

    Greetings Tory:

    I read your newsletters and browse your website occasionally and while I’ve never attended your conferences, I have a great deal of admiration for the work you’ve accomplished and the sheer tenacity you show as it relates to building your business. Just wanted to say that I am happy to see so many helpful suggestions from your readers and disappointed to see the ones where they almost “scold.” I find it interesting that some people never seem to miss an opportunity to feel superior in the face of someone else’s mistake. I’m sure it’s like water off a duck for you — another trait that I’m sure that contributes to your continued success (i.e., focusing on what’s important) and being confident enough to always reach out to your readers to share a mistake you’ve made in hopes that you can learn from it and they can too! Really impressive!

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