Computer Crash? No Sweat

By Alan Viau

What if you lost all the family photos stored on your computer? It can happen. I have 15,000 digital photos and, one day, my computer didn’t turn on. It was dead.

Gulp.

But guess what? All was not lost. There are things you can do to prepare for this sort of thing.

For starters, after I bought my desktop computer in 2000, I upgraded the hardware and software as much as I could and I continue to do so. Thanks to these updates I am able to keep fairly current in terms of evolving requirements to run programs.

As an everyday user, I mainly use my computer for browsing the internet and doing office-type tasks. In the 13 years since I purchased the desktop, it has been in the shop several times to eliminate viruses or to fix a fan or power source. I’ve had several scares, thinking I lost my data. My first line of protection to avoid this was to go to two disc drives: one for programs and the other for data.

I also use my computer to store all of my photos. Shots of friends and family events, plus hundreds of weddings I officiated, are all on the hard drive. There are over 15,000 of these pictures in digital format and I absolutely don’t want to lose them.

However, over the past several weeks my computer got really slow. It started making ugly noises. Two of the three fans died and the last one sounded like a jackhammer. I could see that it was about to die. I started shopping for a new one, examining my options. Finally, the evening came when it wouldn’t start. It had finally expired.

I was not anxious. At 8 a.m. next day, I purchased a new laptop and by noon I was back up and running. Here are three things that helped make the recovery from my computer crash easy:

  1. I bought a separate 1 Terabyte USB drive to proactively backup all my data. I mirrored what was on my hard drive. As a result, I didn’t lose any of my 60 Gigabytes of 15,000 pictures and assorted documents and spreadsheets. I backup my data on a monthly basis.
  2. I went to ‘cloud’ platforms. It used to be that I downloaded my email to my hard drive. Now I use the free email services offered by Microsoft, Google and Yahoo to store my emails on their drives. It is fantastic to share calendars with my wife or share a spreadsheet with my daughter in another city.
  3. I kept track of my passwords and product keys. Today’s browsers can keep your passwords so that you can log in more easily. This also means that you might not remember them either. Ensure you have a separate place where you keep all of these. When the computer crashes you will need you product key to download and re-install Microsoft Office for example.

These three actions really helped when my computer crashed; I was not anxious or stressed out. Instead I was happy to purchase a new laptop. Now I only need to learn how to use Windows 8.

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