What Do You Mean Back Up?

Harddrive One of the more unpleasant tasks I have as a support specialist is breaking bad news. I recently made a young woman sob by telling her the pictures on her laptop were all gone and there was nothing I could do to retrieve them.  Here are some cold facts:

1)      Hardrives fail.  It may be a mechanical problem or a problem caused by a virus.  Sometimes we are able to retrieve information from them and sometimes we are not.  It’s not personal.  

2)      If you are having problems with a computer that is under warranty, they are most likely going to have to run a factory restore to confirm it’s not a software issue.  Factory restore means wipe it out.  They may or may not warn you that you will lose all of your files.  Be prepared.   

3)      Even new computers have hardware failures.  We aren’t surprised with older computers when a part fails but a new one is supposed to be invincible.  They are not.  Viruses can also contribute to file failures leading to data loss. 

4)      Laptops are portable and therefore easy prey for theft.  What would you lose if your laptop were suddenly “gone”?  

Always make sure you have backups of your pictures or data.  Most documents can be recreated (sometimes painfully), but that digital picture of your child’s first birthday cannot.  Most computers come with cd burners installed.  Cd’s are cheap.  Copying your pictures to a cd periodically and putting them in a fireproof safe may save you many tears later. 

Ask your support specialist for help if you are unsure how to accomplish this.  If you are not comfortable with their response, find someone you are comfortable with.  Sometimes support personnel talk over your head or intimidate you with their foreign language.  Ask them to show you how and stop and write it down.  Like a good doctor, they cannot help if you do not tell them. 


  1. B 16 February, 2007 at 07:45

    Thanks for the tips 🙂 I sometimes use my ipod as a back-up disk as well, as I don’t store my entire music collection on it and most of my files are docs that don’t take up too much space (they are, however, rather important to me).

  2. Megan 15 February, 2007 at 16:58

    In response to the previous comment –

    Data recovery services can be very expensive, but as with anything, prices vary (sometimes considerably). So do look and ask around before giving up on your data. It might not be worth $5k, but somethings are priceless.

  3. Davis Freeberg 15 February, 2007 at 10:50

    I’ll add one more to your list, if you do absolutely need to get your data back, get ready to pay through the nose for it. Data recovery services are ridiculously expensive and unless your data is worth at least $5 grand, it’s not going to be economical to get your stuff back. It’s really important to keep multiple copies of your most important files or else getting them back can be a nightmare, even if you are able to get at them.

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