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Lessons from a Computer Crash

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /




Earlier this month, while I was reworking my Web site and setting up this blog, my laptop computer experienced what my support person called a “hard crash.” I asked what that meant, and he said, “All of your data is lost. You must reformat your hard drive.” I followed instructions, but doing this on the phone was taking forever. And, because things weren’t working out like I thought they should, I took my computer to my local computer repair store. I’m back up and running now, but I’ve learned some things that I want to share with you in case you have a similar experience.

Lesson #1: If support tells you that you have to re-format your hard drive, get another opinion first. The local repair guy said that, if I had not wiped the drive clean, it might have been possible to recover my data before reinstalling Windows XP. Just because the person on the phone works for the computer manufacturer doesn’t mean he or she is always right. I wish I had sought a second opinion.

Lesson #2: Backup. Backup. Backup. I had backed up my document files to (free account), so I recovered them easily. However, to avoid having to pay for the storage, I had not backed up my photos. Some of the lost photos were on my old computer, but any photos that I had saved since I got my current machine (June, 2008) were lost. I will be able to recover some that I had uploaded to online photo services, but I probably will never know how many were lost. See my previous post about backup methods if you’re thinking about re-evaluating yours.

Lesson #3: I was totally adrift without my computer. I couldn’t check e-mail without asking to use someone else’s computer. I could work on documents in my old computer, but it did not have anti-virus software, so I couldn’t be online with it. It was three days from the time of the crash until I got my computer back with windows reinstalled. Then, I had to reinstall all my programs, re-activate anti-virus software, and try to figure out what exactly I had lost. And, I’m still encountering things I have to fix or reinstall.

It’s taken almost a month to find and re-install everything I had on my computer. In the process, I have discovered some new ways to do things. I will be sharing that with you in future posts. If you aren’t a subscriber, I invite you to subscribe by e-mail using the Subscribe box in the sidebar at

2 Responses to Lessons from a Computer Crash

  1. Suzy H. February 24, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    Hey Emily, I just went through the same thing, but thank goodness my husband was able to recoup almost everything except my email contacts. I did have everything backed up though both on a separate computer site and on my memory stick and in another file on my husband’s computer. I had heard of stuff like this happening and tried to take precautions early on – so glad I did. Hope you get everything back in order soon.

  2. Martha Ramirez February 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    Awesome post!

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