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 The Computer Buzz October 14th, 2010     


Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Factory

Backing Up is Hard to Do

Sing this to the tune of “Breaking up is hard to do”. . .

They say that backing up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it's true
Don't say my hard drive is dead
If I’d only backed it up I’d have my whole life back again

I beg of you, don't say goodbye
Please, please let me have another try
Now I’ll have to start anew
'Cause backing up was hard to do

Whether for business, school or personal use, your PC has programs and files that are important to you. They are stored on your hard drive. All hard drives eventually fail. Some will fail while still under warranty, others may last 10 years or more but none will run forever.

Often a hard drive will warn you that it is failing. Excessive noise or clicking is a sure sign of an impending crash. Most motherboards have a utility called “smart drive” that (if enabled) may warn you of drive problems. Microsoft’s scan disc can tell you if your drive is starting to create “Bad clusters.” When your PC executes a disc scan during the boot process or when you notice a significant slowdown in data retrieval its time to have your hard drive checked. If you want to “dance with the Devil” you can download a drive test utility from the Internet. It isn’t a good idea because your drive may fail completely during the test making it more difficult to recover your data.

When a customer brings a PC with a suspicious hard drive to us we immediately attempt to clone it to a new hard drive. Cloning means creating an exact copy of the entire hard drive. After cloning we can run a drive test on the suspect hard drive to see if it has a problem.

In the best case scenario, the failing drive allows us to clone it’s contents to a new drive and everything works fine and life is good. Often however the operating system from the old drive has become so corrupt or mal-ware infected we must then clean and repair the system on the new drive. Regardless, the data files and pictures are usually safe.

The worst-case scenario occurs when the hard drive motor or electronics stop working. When this happens the only way to recover files is through a “recovery service.” These services are expensive and time consuming. Expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 depending on how many programs and how much data need to be recovered.

All the anxiety over lost data can be avoided by making sure that your data files and pictures are properly backed up. Contrary to the lyrics in the song, backing up isn’t hard to do once it’s properly set up. That’s what we’ll talk about next week.

 

 
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