I purchased my Lenovo B560 Notebook from Best Buy a little over 7 years ago. It came with many programs pre-installed including the Windows 7 operating system.
All I needed to do was turn it on, let it cycle through the set-up options and then register the operating system with Microsoft.
The laptop came with an owner’s manual but no setup disks. I was informed during the setup that I should burn a copy of the reboot and restore options just in case I ever needed it.
In the 7 years that I had this laptop, I haven’t needed it it but that all changed last week when I had a catastrophic event that crashed my computer and everything I had on it.
This was my baby and it died on me but I didn’t panic and I didn’t take a hammer to the laptop out of frustration, though I was tempted. I was lucky; very lucky because just days before the crash I had backed up the entire system in a few places online and with the use of an external hard drive.
I really could have lost everything important to me. I’m a freelance writer when I’m not blogging and all my contacts, saved documents, thousands of personal and professional images, ebooks, and tons of third party software are, or should I say were, stored on my machine.
I say I was lucky but it was really dumb luck. You see, a few days before the crash I was watching something on TV late one evening and on the show, one of the characters went devastatingly crazy when her computer crashed.
At that very moment, the light bulb went off in my head and I immediately decided I needed to back up my resources. I chose a few destinations and then I remembered that just before I moved to this new house a year ago, my sister gave me an external hard drive that she no longer needed as she upgraded to a larger model.
Did I forget to mention that my sister has a degree in computer science and repairing computer networks and other hardware disasters is her cup of tea? I’m sure I didn’t because I didn’t want her to know how stupid and neglectful I was with my own computer system.
But, since I’ve completely recovered from my so called catastrophic disaster, I’ve done a little bragging to her about how secure and up to date my system is. Of course, I left out the part about the crash and the lack of regard I had towards backing up prior to it.
What I would suggest everyone does RIGHT NOW.
Store all your passwords with a cloud based password managing service. I would recommend using Dashlane, which not only creates strong passwords it autofills them on webforms for you. The only password you will need to remember is your master password that you will need to unlock their encrypted vault.
Dashlane is free to use and works with several browsers and operating systems but if you want to sync it to multiple devices, you’ll have to upgrade to their premium service which is about $3 per month.
Store all your photos, videos, and documents with Google Drive for Android and Mac devices. There are some size limitations using Google Drive but you are allowed unlimited storage if your pictures are 16 megapixels or less and HD videos are are 1080p or lower. Anything more that that will count against your Drive storage.
This is an awesome and free solution for storing photos. It frees up space on your system and devices and you can set it to delete the pictures from your devices after they are uploaded. And, if you mistakenly delete a picture from Drive, it will hold onto it for 60 days just in case you want or need to restore it.
To get started, just install the Google Drive Utility and follow the on screen instructions.
Those were the free solutions but if you’re not too pleased with Google’s privacy measures and want more secure locations for your collections then there are some relatively inexpensive solutions.
External Hard Drive
First, I mentioned above that my sister gifted me an external hard drive, I would highly recommend getting a Western Digital 2TB Elements Portable. This is the exact model that I have and with 2 terabytes (2000 gigabytes) of storage space, it would be hard to run out unless you’re a filmmaker.
This exact model also happens to be the number one best seller on Amazon right now with over 2400 customer reviews. If the storage capacity is too high or low, don’t fret, it also comes in a 1TB and a 3TB version plus, if you’re forgetful like me, there is also an upgrade option for the Passport that will allow for automatic backups.
This model is the basic model with plug and play USB. After it is plugged in your machine will detect it as a storage device and then you just drag and drop whatever you need to put in there.
If it wasn’t for this external hard drive, I would be out of luck because I had tons of third party software like PhotoShop, Final Draft, Camtasia plus a few dozen movies that I had backed up to watch when I travel. I highly recommend getting this external hard drive.
Pro Cloud Storage
When it comes to computers, always refer to Murphy’s Law “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” With that in mind you can see the importance of preparing for the worst case scenario.
There are many cloud based storage backup companies out there and some have good reputations but the two that come to my mind first are Carbonite and Dropbox.
These are two distinctly different services but have similar functions. Dropbox is more in line with Google Drive as it allows you to upload and sync your documents so that they can be easily shared on other devices and with other people. Dropbox can be used as a full fledged backup utility but it is mostly used for individual files so that teams can work on and make changes to documents.
Cabonite is the better option because it is a full fledged backup utility. The software allows for a one click backup of all your libraries including the AppData needed t access them.
Carbonite works in the background and you never have to worry about doing a backup. There are some great features that this service has that make it worth the $5 per month subscription fee, such as the single click to restore your files instantly, even if they are being put on new device because your old one blew up or was stolen or destroyed. It even runs your files through an anti-virus cleansing so that when they are restored to your device they are just like the way they were when they were created.
Carbonite will even backup the files that are put on your external hard drive so if you do have both, you will have a redundant backup plan and will never have to experience the anxiety that comes along with losing everything you put into your machines.
I personally use the external hard drive mentioned above, Google Drive, and Dashlane for my password management, plus I am on the 4th day of my 15 day free trial of Carbonite and so far it is doing everything it claims.
I use Dropbox with clients but I don’t have a personal account with them for my own use. I find it very effective as a file sharing service but I don’t think I would be using it as a backup service since the better option in my opinion is Carbonite.
I didn’t mean to scare you but I hope I did nudge you a bit to be a bit more proactive in backing up your files… Just in case.
Have you experienced a computer crash? How did you recover? Isn’t it worth it to take the headache and anxiety away with third party services?