Friday, August 05, 2005

Now what do I do?

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Ah, yes. The creative juices are flowing and you have just spent a few hours working on your latest opus. It looks like a best seller, maybe a Book of the Week in some newspaper. The characters are interacting and the suspense builds to the point even YOU get excited.

Suddenly, without warning, you hear it. A soft faint sound that chills your blood. Skreeeeeeee! Oh, NO! Head crash! The hard drive has just played bulldozer on the surface of the hard drive’s platters. What to do!!

As Douglas Adams cautioned in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” (in fact it’s printed on the front of the Guide), “DON’T PANIC!!” If you are working on the “Opus” you have some of it, if not all, in memory. Grab a diskette (you DO have one, don’t you?) and save your work on the diskette. Don’t bother with the hard drive, its toast! . It might be possible to recover data from the hard drive, but you don’t have the necessary equipment.

Got it saved to diskette? No? I am so sorry! Yes? I am still so sorry! You have lost everything on the drive. Wait! You do have a backup, right? Backup? “I ain’t got no stinkin’ backup!” OK, then. You’re toast.

Won’t happen to you? Don’t count on it, because it can and does happen every day. First things first. You need a new hard drive, as soon as possible. Well, fortunately, hard drives are NOT as expensive as they used to be. Huge drives are available that will surprise you at how little they cost so go for it. Bigger drives mean more space to store stuff. They still aren’t cheap but a good sized drive, say 80 GB will run about $120 or so. If you feel up to the task, install it your self. They come with full instructions so give it a try. Don’t want to do it yourself? Call around to the various computer sales/repair shops and have them do it for you. Now that the system is sitting there, what should you do now? Find and install a CD Burner. There are several on the market at various prices so get the best you can afford. In fact have your Professional Dudes install one for you. You might even get the software for free. Ok, done. Unfortunately you still have to reload your software. From Scratch! Hours (or days) later you’re back. After a sigh of relief, you go back to work on your “Opus”. Oh, yeah! While your system is in the shop, ask about a data recovery company to collect as much from the dead hard drive as possible. You never know.

Here’s a tip for you. Most PC’s have space and connections for a second hard drive. Get one installed that is the same capacity as the first drive, if not larger, and use it to store COPIES of your work. My system came with a 36GB hard drive and I installed a second (80 GB) to do just that. I also use it for saving the downloaded software I collect from time to time. I also keep copies of system files like the registry there, too. Symantic has a software package you should seriously consider, too. Ghost! You have a CD Burner now, right. Well, with Ghost you can make an Image of your drive and use it to restore your system. What actually happens with Ghost is that EVERYTHING on the drives you select is archived and compressed down to a smaller size and stuffed into an Image file. You then Burn the image onto CD for permanent storage. You can restore your entire system from the CD (may take more than one) in a matter of minutes. That will save you hours of time and get you back in business in a snap.

In the next post I’ll go into the backup process and give you a few software packages to look over to ease the process for you

Have Fun!!