Today’s tip is based on my experience last Monday. You must be prepared when Armageddon hits, and believe me it will hit you at the worst possible time when you are least prepared. I rebooted my laptop at the office and up popped a Startup Repair screen…interesting.. rebooted.. same thing. No hard drive found. No Windows Long story short, somehow my boot sector record was corrupted. It was not a virus, malware, or anything like that. It was just some out of the blue something. It took close to 6 hours off and on to fix it. Once I could mount the drive a check disk repaired the damage. All was right in the world again.
Always have a boot disk. Your windows will make one for you. You must have at least one of these or you will be in big trouble. You can use your Windows installation CD. Make one anyway as a backup. Learn how (click the operating system that you have): Windows 7, Vista. If you are like me and did not have your recovery disk made, you can use someone else’s computer to make one or buy a download iso image to burn for about $10.
The scariest part is the loss of data. You can lose school files, all your personal pictures, videos, files, financial documents, etc.
You can buy an external hard drive for close to $100 and use backup software for it. This is a great idea except you must remember to regularly do it. I like to do this weekly and use a commercial software for automatic daily backups. I can get my data off an external drive much faster than the site and I can use the site to get what it missed in between backups.
I use Dropbox to backup all my work product and school work automatically. It is perfect for about 2 GB of data. It is not a backup service per se, but you can create folders that it will sync with the server and you can access elsewhere or share with those you choose.
I have not found any reliable backup service cheaper than Mozy. You are looking at about $6 a month for 5 GB of automatic backups. In my opinion, it is easily worth it. It does a decent job on set up of figuring out what to back up. You can customize this and choose to add additional files or folders.
The scary thing I realized is that I had accidentally turned off my commercial backup software. This was a ‘doh!” moment for me as I remember doing it when I was upgrading some things.
So the take away today is to be sure you have a recovery disc and/or a Windows installation disk. I now have one at the office and one at the house. Also be sure you have back up software running at all times. Unless of course, you do not care to ever see the data on your computer ever again.