Always Have a Back Up Plan

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.

giphyI 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.


Have you ever lost data? Do you have a backup solution in place? Tell me. It’s time to get geeky.

About Twindaddy (338 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

16 Comments on Always Have a Back Up Plan

  1. I’ve lost some. I’ve backed up some. I’ve recovered some. It’s a wheel…. I don’t know why.
    I forget what it was called, but I used some sort of ghost program to recover data from a corrupted drive once. That wasn’t physical damage to the drive though.


    • Right, you can almost always recover data as long as the drive is functional. There are tools available (for free) which will let you recover files from formatted drives.

      On a side note, I hope you at least have pictures of your beautiful children and your Word files of your beautiful writing backed up somewhere. Your Google account has 15GB of free storage…


  2. I am (partially) one of those people. I shall stick with the external hard drive. Nice informative post. Hope you are doing well Scott. : )


    • Ack! I never noticed your tinfoil hat before? 😉

      But, yeah. It’s always good to have a backup of your important stuff. Hard drives, like car engines, are mechanical devices that could fail at any moment. If you don’t have a backup you could very easily lose every digital valuable thing you own if something were to happen to it.


  3. I recently backed up my photos and few important docs to an online solution. My computer has now been broken just too many times, while I’ve seen external drives break one too many times as well. Recently had to recover my children’s pictures too. Backing up is a must, in my opinion.


    • It is indeed. Out of curiosity, which online provider did you choose?


      • Google, because Dropbox did not provide enough space.


        • Yeah, I have about 5GB free space with Dropbox because for a time they did this thing where if you automatically uploaded pictures from your phone to them they would increase your free storage space, but they quit doing that. I looked at their prices the other day out of curiosity and their cheapest plan is like $9 or month for 1TB of storage. Not outrageous, but it would be overkill for me. I my data isn’t even 1/10th that size. So I’ll stick with my 100GB from Google for a couple bucks a month.


  4. I actually spilled my coffee while reading this, and it barely missed my iPad. Backup starts today!


  5. Are you calling it online storage because the “cloud” is too confusing for most people? 😉 I’m just teasing. That really sucks about your friend’s HD.


  6. I started sweating at “loss of pictures” … I learned my lesson years ago.


  7. CRAP and thank you. I keep getting notices that I haven’t backed up in a bazzilion days… Going NOW.


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