I don’t typically talk about what I do professionally. Although, referring to anything I do as professional seems a bit odd to me. I don’t ever feel professional. Anything but, in fact. I’m too sarcastic and inappropriate to be truly considered professional. That’s a blog post for another time, though.
I don’t really know what my title is. It changes constantly. Basically, I manage almost all technology for a small school corporation. Because I have a knack for fixing computers friends, acquaintances, friends of friends and acquaintances, and sometimes suggested Facebook friends ask me to fix their malfunctioning and/or misbehaving technological devices.
Last week I received a frantic text from a friend saying that her laptop would no longer boot. She was quite panicked because she has pictures and important documentation saved on the hard drive, and wanted to know if there was anything I could do.
I told her that if she could get the laptop to me I would attempt to retrieve the data from the hard drive for her. We met Sunday night and I brought the laptop home. I plugged it in and immediately knew the outcome of this endeavor.
When I hit the power button a clicking noise emanated from the laptop, followed by three quick beeps. The pattern repeated itself a few times while the laptop searched for a device, any device, from which to boot.
My heart sank. Typically clicking noises like those I was hearing come from the hard drive, and it’s an indication of physical damage to the drive. Physical damage to the drive means it won’t function. If it doesn’t function that means I can’t get any data from it.
I popped open the CD drive hoping to find a disk in there that might have been the source of the dreaded clicking noise, but the drive was empty.
I pressed onward. I popped in a Windows 7 installation CD and booted into Recovery Mode, and from there into command line. I tried to access the drive and it told me there was no media in the drive.
I then booted the laptop into the built-in diagnostic tools and ran a hardware diagnosis on the system. It told me there was no hard drive installed, which clearly wasn’t true because I could see it right in front of me.
I then tried booting the system up using a boot repair Linux distribution. The Linux system could not find the drive, and neither could the Gparted disk management software.
This all served to confirm what I suspected from the moment I heard that dreaded clicking noise: the hard drive is no longer physically functional. And while that doesn’t rule out data recovery entirely, it does rule out anything within my experience to accomplish. To recover data from a physically damaged hard drive requires special tools and know-how, and costs upwards of a thousand dollars. If the data on that drive is as important as she indicated she may have to drop a grand to have it recovered.
I told you all of that just to tell you this: if you have important data that you don’t ever want to lose make sure you have it backed up elsewhere. There are many ways to do this, and for lots of money, I’ll send you an email instructing you how! (Just kidding. #Imbroke)
My preferred solution is to use online storage. I was using OneDrive by Microsoft until about a year ago when they jacked up their prices, and then switched over to Google Drive. For $1.99 a month I get 100GB of storage where I have saved every picture and home video I have. I also have a few important documents saved there in case I ever need them again.
The advantage to online storage is that the data is safe no matter what happens to your local copy. If your hard drive fails, it’s cool, your data is backed up online and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. If your home catches fire, it’s cool (well, not really) your data is backed up online and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Tornado? Earthquake? Hurricane? House flooded by tears after watching The Notebook for the 437856th time? Your data is safe and sound on the world wide hate conveyor. Another advantage? If you install the client software (Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox all have one) all you have to do is move the data you want to back up to a folder and the client will automatically upload it for you. You have to do absolutely nothing else.
There are other ways to back up your data. For instance, some people don’t trust online storage. They tell me so with a tip of their tinfoil hats and a warning that chemtrails are a government plot to kill us all. (#bushdid911) If you’re one of those people you can buy an external hard drive and schedule your computer to do daily, nightly, weekly, or even monthly back ups.
If you don’t want an external drive cluttering up your desk (I mean, they are unsightly) you could always install a second hard drive in your computer to back up your data to. You could use back up software to manage your data or could even set the disk up as a mirror to the system disk, meaning that every time you save something to your computer it gets saved on both disks.
There are other, less extravagant means to back up your data, too. You could always manually copy your data to flash drives or CD/DVD roms. Of course, if you’re an unorganized person like me you’d lose those in like a week. Or catch your 6-year-old using it as a frisbee in the living room.
All the alternatives to online storage will work great to recover data in the event of a hard drive failure. However, if a natural disaster were to hit your house your hard drive and whatever local backup solution you’ve chosen will both be destroyed, which is precisely why I highly recommend online storage.
So go on. Do yourself a favor and do the Google. If not them, then at least find some solution to back up your vital data. Only you can prevent data loss.