Hindsight is 20/20 especially when it comes to computer maintenance. That is why I’m writing this article to myself on ” The Things I Would Have Done If I Knew My Hard Drive Was Going To Fail” so next time my now-sight would be 20/20.
I can’t blame my computer as much as I would like to. The signs were all there staring me in that face.
Most of my computers only stand up to one year or maybe a year and a half before a new one is in order. This one had stood the test of time.
It was probably the least expensive one that had been purchased over the years and it lasted over 3 of them.
Another sign was the night before the disaster, I was chatting with my mother about computer misbehaving and her having to buy a new one.
The thought came to mind, that I really should back up some of my files in case that ever happen to me.
But… as we know… life happens and I had better things to do with my time, like sort through my pictures and go for a walk.
This brings me to the next morning.
Signs and Symptoms
The computer started up just fine and was performing normally. Then, everything started to go in slow motion.
Was taking me forever to open or shut down a program.
I had Outlook, Google Chrome, Word, a graphic’s program and a couple of text files opened. It took over 20 minutes to close these programs down when in fact it should have taken just seconds.
Being optimistic, I’m thinking that the computer has gotten stuck somewhere with its memory so I reboot to allow it to sort itself out.
Well, actually it didn’t so much fail as came up with an error message. This message basically said that I had something plugged into the computer that failed so unplug it and start again.
Having two external hard drives plugged in, I unplugged everything that was attached to the computer and rebooted again.
This time the error message informed me that there was probably something wrong with my hard drive or CD/DVD drive.
God, I hoped it was my CD/DVD drive!
But fate was against me and I immediately took my sick little laptop into the Geek Squad.
After assessing the problem and realizing that the hard drive was failing, they immediately hooked it up to one of their systems to see if they would be able to retrieve the data.
I really do have to give a shout out to BestBuy here. They not only took care of the computer, they took care of me.
Having to wait a while to see if they could recover anything, they seated me in their theatre room, asked me what I wanted to watch, brought me water and updates every 15 minutes. Great customer service.
At this point, I was getting very philosophical about the data. After all, it is my life’s work that is on that computer.
Ranging from “I NEED that data” to softening down to “I HOPE they can restore some of it” to releasing it totally out to cyberspace. Overall, it was a very freeing experience.
Just a different way of letting go of all the stuff we clutter our lives with.
Finally, they came back with the good news that the data could be recovered, but it would take a little time.
A little time boils down to 32 hours. I told you the drive was acting slow.
So… I tell you that story, to tell you this.
Solutions To Dealing With A Failing Hard Drive
Here are the things I would have done if I knew my hard drive was failing.
Backed up my hard drive completely.
I do have some backups done of particular files like my pictures on another hard drive and the only pictures that I still had on my computer were for the current month.
And here is where the world works in mysterious ways.
Thinking I might not get back the pictures that I had taken, I remembered that there were some special ones of birds that I don’t often get in my backyard that were still on the failing hard drive.
The birds in particular were:
I had only seen the tanager and warbler once each on different days so I figured they were gone from this area and that I would have lost my chance to photograph them.
Yesterday, I went out to take some photos and all 3 of those birds showed up and gave me some great views.
Amazing… all in three in one day.
Also, the first of the fall dark-eyed junco’s showed up. A wonderful day for picture taking, but now I have these pictures where do I put them?
No computer to download them to. No way to see them except on my camera.
As you can see, I use my computer a lot when it comes to photography.
Get a backup program
There are so many good backup programs available to us nowadays that really there is no excuse for me not having a backup of my data.
I know, because I have used them in the past. Not the present.
Once I had an online version but my computer kept backing up constantly putting me way over my bandwidth.
Then there was a hard copy version I had that worked quite well, but every month there were constant paid upgrades that it came to the point that I had to just say stop!
I currently use Amazon S3 storage, but just for websites (silly me) and have three external hard drives attached to my computer.
You would have thought that all the bases would have been covered. Sadly that wasn’t the case.
One is dedicated to photos. Another one to old data from the last computer and before and the last one has videos and entertainment on it.
The last two hard drives are getting up there in age so failure is imminent with them as well.
Knowing that nowadays most people use “the cloud” to back up their information or dropbox, I will be exploring that option.
On the other hand, I like to know where my data is and the cloud just doesn’t cut it.
Where is the cloud?
Where is it actually being stored?
If there is a glitch in the system will someone else be able to access it? Inquiring minds want to know.
Keep a physical copy of passwords
Like a lot of people today I have a password program that saves them for me in a special file, but… it’s on my computer.
No computer, no passwords.
No passwords, no access to emails.
Now, this would be fine if I had multiple devices like a smartphone that was synced with my emails, but I don’t. Just an old flip phone for emergencies.
And… one can only remember so many passwords especially if they are numerical, alphabetical with special characters.
The good news is that I was able to remember one and consequently could get into my work email, but not my personal one.
Think… no emails, no Facebook, no Youtube, no Google.
Have a backup laptop or other device if possible
Having upgraded to a computer before one dies years ago, I still have an old laptop that runs Windows XP. We are talking old and slow but it works.
I am actually typing this article on it while I’m waiting to get the new computer that I bought.
Having this laptop has enabled me to keep in touch, work and write albeit very slowly.
It really is amazing how far technology has come when this old computer used to be state of the art and walking away to get a cup of tea while waiting for a program to open was considered to be fast.
Backup onto CD/DVD discs
If your computer has a CD/DVD drive make some hard copy backup on discs. I could have, but I didn’t.
Just another way of doing backups.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
And last but not least, don’t sweat the small stuff. If it’s gone it’s gone. C’est la vie!
If it’s not gone, then happy days are in sight. Either way, the earth will continue to turn and the birds will frequent my backyard.
Life with no computer means I could catch up on housework (damn… where’s the computer). Spend more time in the garden, go for longer walks, read a real book and watched a movie on TV.
Update: I just phone to see how everything was going and after 2 days of being in tech hospital they are hoping to have my new computer ready for me later today or tomorrow.
Yes… I bought a new computer. It’s an HP 15.6″ Touchscreen Laptop Model #: 15-BS028CA.
I now need to also purchase an external CD/DVD drive as it appears they no longer have them internally.
As you can now see after 4 days I have a new computer, passwords are intact and I’m up and running.
Now it’s time to install all the programs that I had on the old one and get up to speed on the new operating system.
New learning curves can be exhilarating and frustrating at the same time and I’m sure that I will fall into both these categories as I explore my new toy.
And… make backups.