Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two computers and a lesson in backing up

I had a good scare the other day: I went to turn on my netbook, which had shut down the previous night with no apparent problems, and it wouldn't boot up.

At all.

I barely restrained myself from having a complete and total meltdown: I hadn't backed up in months.  I was halfway through a big magazine article, and had some novel notes and research I didn't want to lose, plus (eek) all of our tax files for our 2011 returns.  (I do have hard copies of those, since I believe in redundancy on important things, but still!)  Then there were the months' worth of work emails, the spreadsheets with all my work income and expenses, tons of photos...

In retrospect, it's amazing I didn't lose my sanity once the full gravity of the situation hit me.

Of course, as these things tend to work, it was an evening, so I had to worry all night long about whether I'd be able to recover all my data.  The next day, we took the netbook to a repair place in town, and they took a look.

The verdict: hard drive failure.

That was what worried me the most, but it turned out they were able to recover all my data.  They even cut me a deal because I brought my own external hard drive to recover it to.  Turns out it was cheaper to install a new hard drive than to buy a new netbook (especially since I'd have to pay even more to upgrade all my software, as I still run Office 2000).  They even offered to let me buy a hard drive at Microcenter and install that one, since theirs were more expensive.  Not a bad deal at all.

So I went home and resurrected my old Averatec laptop in the meantime.  Long-time readers of my blog will remember how much I loved that thing.  It's the same size as the netbook, the same weight, but it has a full-size screen (1280 x 768 instead of the 1024 x 600 of the Asus Eee) and a CD/DVD drive.  It was starting to freeze and crash all the time, though, which was why I got the Asus three years ago.

It got me started thinking, though -- why not do the same thing with the Averatec, replace the hard drive and start using it again?  Even better, why not look into replacing the hard drive with a solid state drive and upgrading the memory?

So during one of my trips to the repair shop, I asked them about it.  They tested the Averatec's hard drive, and amazingly enough, it was fine -- so the issue is with the operating system, not the hardware.  If I can find the CDs that came with it, I can install a fresh copy of Windows, buy a new battery (this one is toast), and start using it again.

Two computers... Whatever will I do with myself?

Although this incident had a happy ending, it did remind me of how important it is to always back up.  From now on, I think I'll hang my flash drive from the bulletin board above my desk as a reminder to back up every day after I'm finished working!

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