Computer Disaster . . . Don’t Make this Mistake

Blue Screen of Death - My worst Nightmare

Blue Screen of Death – My worst Nightmare

Disaster stuck our home yesterday.

My husband woke up to a laptop that made sounds, but wouldn’t actually start.  He went through the typical angst, the tightness in the chest, the tears in the eyes (not that he actually cried – is too manly for that), the anger and lack of understanding  – it worked fine yesterday, what happened.  If you’ve ever experienced a dead computer you know what I’m talking about.  I really believe when you lose a computer you go through the five stages of grief.  It is a horrible heart wrenching experience.

Yes, I know I’m being a little bit melodramatic, but my computer is my life.

Aaron and I both work crazy hours and everything is on our laptops.  Fortunately 90% of his current work stuff is backed-up in Dropbox, but a lot of his older files and personal stuff was still just hanging out on his hard drive.

Even though it wasn’t my computer I went into crisis mode myself.  Technically my laptop is backed-up at work, but I haven’t actually logged in to check the system in quite a while.  I’ve just been assuming it is working fine and that my IT guy is doing his job.  But we are a small office and since I did the initial set-up it still kind of falls under my duty umbrella.  Needless to say I’ll be double checking everything tomorrow.

On a personal level, I haven’t backed-up my pictures in almost a year.  I used to be fanatical about my pictures – I had backups of my backups.  I’d like to say it was because I was meticulous, but in reality I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I just assumed that having all my pictures on two external drives was better then one.

So while Aaron hunted for a new computer, I went to look at backup options.   I wanted to find a wireless external drive that ran on batteries and could be placed in our safe.  Brilliant idea huh.  I think I’m ahead of my times because I couldn’t find anything that last longer than 10 hours.  My technical skills are lacking though, so if anyone knows of any options please feel free to drop me a note.

I did find a product that solves another issue.  I keep 1-2 years worth of pictures on my current laptop, but constantly needing access to older images.   To solve this issue, I ended up purchasing a Seagate Wireless Plus Mobile Storage device.

It is essentially an external drive that is designed for movies and other shared files that serves as a mini wireless hub.  Up to eight devices can connect at the same time and access whatever files are stored on the drive.  It sounds like most people use it to store movies for viewing while traveling.  What that means for me is that I can add files via an IP address.  As long as the device is powered up and connected to my home wireless system I can access pictures from anywhere in the world.  The wireless capabilities won’t last long enough to keep it in my safe, but being able to access old files remotely is a great feature for me.   No more traveling with external hard drives.

Aaron lucked out.  The tech guys were able to access his hard drive and move the files to his new computer.  Of course now, he is stuck learning to use Windows 8.  Based on the swearing from yesterday I don’t think he is happy with the new operating system.   He has already dumped his older files onto an external drive and once his older computer is fixed will have them in two places.

This whole experience was a wake-up call for both of us.  Our backup systems are all work related which means that our personal stuff is only marginally protected.  Yes it is included in the laptop backups, but it is always a good idea to have your own personal system in place as well.

As previously mentioned, I’m not a technical writer.  I don’t know enough about backup systems to write an in-depth analysis of the current products and make any recommendations.  What I did do was a bunch of research.  Below are a couple of the articles I thought were most interesting.  Read through them and make sure you have a system in place that is designed for your needs and will work for your situation.

Consumer Reports – This is a great summary of the different systems available and the terms you need to know prior to making an informed decision.

The Verge – This article compares hardware, software and cloud systems and give you basic information on potential systems.

PC World – This is the budget way of doing a backup.  Personally I think you’ll want to spend at least a little bit of money, but he has some excellent suggestions for doing everything on a budget.

PC World – 2013 comparison chart of the best PC Backup software

Lifehacker – Direction (with video) on how to backup your computer to an external drive.

Auslogics – Detailed instructions on using your existing windows software to run backups and do system restore.  These guys sell backup systems, but the info is still applicable.

I’m sure there are other articles related to this subject.  Please forward me the links and I’ll include them as well.


PS.  Homecoming went well and our daughter actually made it home 30 minutes before curfew!  I was a very happy parent.

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