Posts Tagged ‘backup’

I’m Going to Stop Feeling Sorry For You

hard drive crash recoveryTo this day, I STILL have clients that don’t have current backups of the data on their computers.  HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?  I encourage, I even beg and STILL there are those of you out there with NO backup whatsoever.

Let me tell you a little story, a client of mine had his hard drive fail.  His most recent backup was over 4 months old, and he had critical business information on it.  This was a mechanical (internal) failure, there is not software in the world that can fix this just as no software in the world can fix your car’s engine if it blows up.  My client had to have it, so it was necessary to send the hard drive to recovery specialists who literally BUILD a new hard drive, putting the platters from the failed drive into the newly constructed (though temporary) one.  The data is then copied to a NEW hard drive and returned to the client.  A happy ending, right?  Well, this happy ending cost my client a little over $2,000!

This kind of data recovery requires a clean room a 1,000 times cleaner than an operating room with staff dressed in bunny suits.  A single speck of dust can destroy megabytes of data or even make the drive unreadable at all.

PLEASE don’t let this happen to you.  If nothing else, go to Best Buy and get an external hard drive for $60 and use their lousy software to back up your computer – it’s MUCH better than nothing.  Carbonite is even better because it keeps your backup away from your computer in case of fire or theft.  But don’t put it off, I’m running out of empathy (well, maybe a little.)

Backups Aren’t Expensive – Losing Your Data IS!!!

imageOh, you don’t think you need a backup do you?  Let me ask ONE question….

Is there a single file on your computer that can’t be replaced that you would absolutely pay anything to get back?

Think about it, do you keep your finances on it?  Do you have photos of trips or family that would really hurt to lose?

What about documents you’ve created?  Whatever it is, all it takes is one power surge or hard drive meltdown to make you desperate to get it back, and that’s when it gets expensive.

If your hard drive totally fails, in MOST cases it is possible to recover you data, but that will require a company that specializes in data recovery using “clean rooms” (much cleaner than hospital operating rooms) and that can build a temporary hard drive using your platters to recover the data.  When I say expensive, I mean $1,500 or more.

An external hard drive for your computer will run you between $50 and $80.  An online service like Carbonite is $59.99 a year and protects you from a fire in your home melting your computer AND the backup drive or a robbery that will again take everything, including your backup (full disclosure, I am a reseller for Carbonite, but they really are the best, and I was a customer before becoming a reseller.)

So let me say it again… Backup!  Backup!  Backup!  Contact me if you need help figuring out what’s best for you.

Tek-Chic Systems Now Has a Backup Program

imageI KNOW you have documents and photos that would devastate you if your hard drive crashed.  “Oh, I have an external hard drive backup” you say.  Well, what happens if someone breaks in and steals your computer equipment (they WILL take it all) or there is a fire and everything just melts.  I know you’ve got insurance for your things, but your data is gone. 

Carbonite is an inexpensive way to very simply and securely have your data stored in the cloud so when the worst happens, you don’t have to worry about your data.

When there was a fire in the Steiner Ranch community where I lived and we were evacuated, I didn’t worry the slightest about what I had on my computer.  I took care of my dogs and got out of the house.  I THOUGHT about my computer data, but knew it was backed up with Carbonite and took care of more important things in the moment.

Now you can just go to and see the options you have.  Carbonite is absolutely the best in class when it comes to online backup.  For $59.99 a year you can back up EVERYTHING on your computers hard drive, no matter how big it is – AND you can access you data from anywhere via the web.  It’s EASY to install and once it is – you can forget about it.  Carbonite will automatically backup your data as it changes.

Carbonite is an excellent company and I have to tell you, ONLINE backup is the ONLY way to protect you from certain viruses.  There are viruses out there that will encrypt all your documents (photos, music, etc.) on ANY hard drive connected to it.  Currently they want $300 to give you the decryption key, otherwise after 72 hours you data is lost forever.  Off-site backup with Carbonite makes sure you can ALWAYS get your data back.  PLEASE don’t call me when it’s too late.  I may not be able to help you then.

If You Don’t Have a Backup Drive – Buy This One!

imageIf you only have ONE copy of your data (documents, photos, videos, etc.) then you DON’T have a copy.  At at the very least you need to have a second copy at home.  Here is a 3 Terabyte (that’s 3,000 Gigabytes) drive for only $129 with free shipping.  Don’t lose a precious photo or critical business file over a few dollars, people pay me much more to get back what they could have easily recovered if they only backed up to a drive like this.

3 Terabytes is more storage than you currently use or will ever use (at least in the next couple of years.)  Get this and be done – it’s a VERY good deal.

If You Don’t Have Dropbox, Get It

imageDropbox is a great way to not only synchronize files between two computers, but it also give you online backup (you don’t have to use it with two computers.)  Dropbox installs as a folder on you computer and you use it just like any other folder, except that any file you put in the Dropbox folder gets backed up to the cloud (and any other computer also using the same account.)  Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, use this link and you’ll get an extra 250MB:

Tell your friends about it and get up to 16GB of free storage!

Is Your Hard Drive About to Fail?


This month I’d like to talk about hard drives, specifically yours.  Hard drives have become incredibly inexpensive.  Replacing a hard drive in a computer is pretty easy.  What can be difficult (if not impossible) and most likely expensive is returning your computer to its previous state following a hard drive failure.  If any component in your computer is likely to fail, it’s the hard drive.  Your hard drive is a series of platters, spinning anywhere from 5400 to 7200 times a minute (that’s up to 120 times a second) with arms that extend over the platter.  The read/write head that “floats” over the platter is so close that the smallest particle of dust could cause it to crash, which is why they are assembled is a completely dust-free clean rooms and are completely sealed so that no dust can enter during use (the photo here is of one that has been opened up.)  The tolerances are extremely small, and the information is packed very tightly.  It is easy to find a one terabyte hard drive for $60 or less these days.  All the information on your hard drive is a series of BITS, each bit is either a zero or a one.  A one terabyte hard drive contains 8,796,093,022,208 bits (in round numbers almost 9 trillion bits.)  All this adds up to the fact that there is a lot that can go wrong.

So how can you protect yourself from a hard drive disaster?  Well for starters, eventually that hard drive in your computer WILL fail, it just doesn’t have to be a disaster.  First you can look for the signs of trouble.  Any unusual noise coming from your computer should be cause for concern, especially if it sounds like a slight “tick” or worse a “clunk”.  I this is happening then you are encountering mechanical issues and that hard drive is not long for this world.  Another sign is when your computer seems to stutter.  Now this could be caused by any number of things, but it could be from the hard drive having trouble reading a particular portion of the hard drive (referred to as sectors.)  All hard drives have sectors that are bad, and it has enough built-in smarts to usually work around them.  But over time additional sectors can go bad and cause problems because it may contain information critical to the operation of the computer (like Windows systems files.)  image

If you’re hearing ticking or clunking sounds, then you need help and you need it fast.  \First, shut down your computer.  Running it further only brings you that much closer to total failure.  You need a new hard drive.  If you’re not afraid to poke around the inside of your computer, you might be able to do it yourself.  If you have a desktop computer, open it up and look for the hard drive.  You need to identify if it’s an older IDE or newer SATA type of hard drive.  An IDE drive will have a 2-inch wide cable (usually grey), a SATA cable is only about 3/4” wide.  You will need to install a new drive with the old one, and then use a program that will allow you to make a “clone” of your old drive on the new hard drive.  There are free programs like Clonezilla that will do the job (you download a file that you burn to make a bootable CD.)  You boot to the CD and tell the software to make a copy of the old drive onto the new drive.  When you’re done, disconnect your old drive and your new system will probably boot right away (you may have to go into your systems BIOS to tell it to boot from the new drive.)  With a laptop it’s a little different because you don’t have room to install a second hard drive.  You’ll need an external USB dock or case to connect the drive to in order to make the clone (so figure around an extra $40 or so above the price of the hard drive.)  Since my audience is mostly “normal” people who have better things to do with their time than poke around the inside of their computers, you will likely want a professional to do this for you.  They will have the right hardware and software to do the job quickly.

Bad sectors harder to diagnose because the symptoms can be attributed to any number of things, but my phone usually rings when Windows suddenly stops booting, resulting in a blue screen or it just reboots and goes around and around in an endless cycle.  BEFORE things get this bad, you can run Checkdisk on your Windows machine as a preventive maintenance tool.  Open “My Computer”, right-click on your C drive, choose “Properties” and on the “Tools” tab you’ll find “Error Checking”.  This will do a fast scan, looking for data that is difficult to read and will try to move it and mark the spot bad.  Professionals will have (or should) a program called SpinRite, which is much more thorough than Checkdisk, but at $90 costs more than a replacement hard drive.  If your computer won’t boot, SpinRite is what a professional will use to try to fix a drive with bad sectors.  If your computer is having trouble reading part of the hard drive, it might hang momentarily while it tries to read a particular spot – if it’s successful the computer will then come back to life.  If not, you might just get an error message, or the computer may reboot.  These symptoms could be caused by something else, but regardless DON’T wait until the computer is completely unusable before calling for help.  By then it might be too late to bring your hard drive back to life.

So, how to you avoid this becoming a disaster?  BACK UP YOUR DATA!  A disaster is when your hard drive dies, and the ONLY copies of photos and videos of your children were on it.  A disaster is when you keep your companies books (including payroll) on it and you don’t have a copy.  You children won’t go back and be young again so you can retake those photos, and how long will it take to completely recreate a year’s worth of financial information for your business?  If your data is backed up, then a hard drive failure goes from a disaster to an inconvenience (and will be much cheaper in the long run.)  Read my article from October titled “3-2-1- Backup” to understand how to make sure a hard drive failure (or theft or fire) doesn’t create a data disaster in your life.

Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll have a hard drive fail on you at some time – it will.  It might be next week, it might be three years from now, but it WILL happen.  Just don’t be someone who read this, shrugged it off and didn’t prepare.  I have lots of clients who will attest that spending a few dollars to back up their system would have been (past tense emphasized) a welcome thing following a drive failure.

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