Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Back in the saddle

Whew! What a day yesterday was. It certainly proved to be one of those days.
You know the ones: they start off with something going wrong.. (like, the alarm doesn’t go off) and then they go downhill from there.
Yup. Those days.

Let’s count how many ways my day smelled up the joint:
1)An older system of mine decided that it would not boot into Windows (XP), and then — with a determination that would make a Missouri mule proud — resisted all resuscitation efforts. No problem (I said to myself.. it was still early in the day). I’ll just re-mount a “ghost image” backup from the DVD’s I made last week.

2)One of the 4 DVD’s was “corrupted”. As in “unreadable”.
As in.. that backup is totally useless to me. Four wasted discs. Caught me a little off guard, too… I pay extra to buy the best blanks, and the company to which I am alluding has never given me a “bad burn” before.

3)By reinstalling XP (which only takes an hour or so) I was able to to pull a full, system state Windows Backup Utility backup off of my external hard-drive. Yay!
3a) only to discover that I had been lazy and and forgetful on this secondary backup (method) of this secondary machine, and the “system state” it was restored to was (as it was in) mid-January. Two and-a-half months in Computer Years is like.. over a year to you and me; way out of date.
At least I didn’t have to reinstall all my programs, and drivers, and updates, and files.. and stuff. Only some of them.

About the same time #2 was happening…
4) I jammed/stubbed my middle toe on an ajar door. Wait! I mean I really did a good job of it.
I thought I was going to have to go to the ER there for a minute.
(Come on, guys. Feel sorry for me a little. Can’t ya? Pretty Please?)

About the same time I was half-way through getting my restored machine back into it’s modern config:
5) A client called to tell me they were having trouble publishing to the Website I had built for them (several months ago). This revealed a string of adventures we’ll just call 6) through 10). I won’t bore you with that, but I will tell you that it was nobody’s fault, and painstaking reconstruction resolved/eliminated all issues.. and, there was no “downtime”.

It was just a day where things that were supposed to “work” simply.. didn’t.

Some of all this is clearly my fault (I left the door ajar, and Iwalked into it), and some of of it is clearly Bill Gates’s fault.. and some of it it is the fault of mischievous invisible gremlins and/or the alignment of the planets.
Part of my problem was I had failed to fully follow my own advice.

So what lessons can we learn from my less-than-stellar day yesterday?
A: ‘Things’ can go wrong. Things can break, get lost or stolen, or be destroyed by fire, flood, lightning, or rust. If those ‘things’ are important, you need a “spare”. Such as, a spare house key.

In computing, these spares are called “backup” copies.
I was saved a slew of work and a ton of wasted time that problem #1 would have caused me had I not had a functional backup. That is why Industry Best Practice tells us to make two backups, and to store them on two different types of media.. in two different places.
The step I neglected was on my image-to-optical disc backup, I didn’t “verify” the integrity of all four discs as the final step of the backup process.

Both my Tip of the day and Today’s free link are combined today. If you have photographs, and/or a music collection, and/or important documents on your computer, you simply must make backup copies or risk losing them forever.

* Windows users should take advantage of the built-in Windows Backup utility. I have published a detailed How To for using it to automatically make backups and keep them up-to-date here (This is what saved my bacon.)
Apple Mac users can make an image backup using the Disk Management applet, which I describe here.

*Make another backup using another backup tool.. of which there are many different types. You might wish to use an “imaging” tool like Norton Ghost, Acronis TrueImage Home, or the free DriveImage XML (Bill Mullins talks about this program in a recent post, to read it, and see the appropriate download links, click here.)

* Verify your backups by testing them. Find out if they’ll work before you need them (Doh!)

The fact is, sooner or later, you will need a spare key to get into your house or car.. and sooner or later Windows or your hard-drive will die and you will need a backup if you want to see those photos or hear that music or work on those important document again.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

April 1, 2008 - Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, security, System Restore, tech, Windows | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] recently, I wrote an article on how having the second backup saved my bacon on an XP machine (see Back in the saddle) when its hard drive decided enough was enough. I cannot say it often enough: computers are complex […]


    Pingback by Backup your ’system’. Backup, backup, backup! Beep, beep, beep… : Responsible CyberCitizen | April 26, 2008 | Reply

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