Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hey, You've Got To Hide Your Files Away

Last night, my hard drive died. I got memory I/O errors that prevented Windows from starting up. Worse, I didn't have any backups, so all my files were gone. That happened sometime yesterday afternoon.

Luckily, I was able to rescue my files from the grave. I followed the directions I made a Linux CD at work, booted the computer with that, and hoped that my files were buried under the wreckage, much like the two firefighters in World Trade Center. Indeed, they were, with hands raised up through the rubble in dramatic fashion. So all my stuff is now safely zipped up and burnt to a CD, and I'm on the road to recovery. (And Linux.)

But it could have just as easily gone the other way. Then I would have lost everything, and nobody would ever have seen this photo again:

Act fast, ladies, because he's about to get married.

Aaaaanyway, just as people whose apartments burn down will urge you to get renter's insurance, I urge you to back up anything you can't afford to lose. Nothing complicated... just keep all your critical files in one place, and periodically copy that place to a CD, DVD or USB drive.

It only takes a few minutes to do, but believe me when I tell you it will save you all kinds of grief. And when your drive dies its cowardly, pants-crapping death, you won't be harmed.


  1. You got lucky in that your drive was still accessible via linux. They don't always go down that gracefully. A few years ago I convinced Bonnie that, since we were living together and didn't need 2 PCs, that we could just put her hard drive in my machine, get a new one for her old case, and donate her PC to her parents. We did that, it worked, and then her hard drive promptly died after about two months in its new home. Inaccessible via any known software tool. She lost all her high school and college files. She was seriously mad at me, most of all because it would have been ridiculously easy, since we had 2 HDDs in the system, to back up the important stuff from one to the other periodically.

    Anyway, I still have the dead hard drive -- just in case I can some day spare the $500-700 it'll cost to get a "clean room" data extraction attempted.

    So your PSA is well received here. Thanks to the dawn of the $50 DVD burner and the extra-capacious thumb drive, my days of catastrophic data loss are hopefully behind me.

    I would be interested in seeing the directions you followed to recover via a linux boot cd -- looks like you intended to link to something but didn't.

  2. Indeed I did forget. I recovered using these instructions from Lifehacker.

    Easier than sellin' hoes.