You and your Computer!

Hi Ya'll,
As some of you may know, I tinker around with computers for a living when not playing with model boats and Mayhem. I've been struggling with a friends laptop for the last two weeks and I thought I'd share a few thoughts about your computer with you.....


What are you going to do if your computer fails in the next hour????
How much data can you afford to loose?

"I don't have anything important to save on my computer!"

Any document, spreadsheets, letters, databases, sales invoices, sales proposals, contacts, PHOTOS, homework, downloaded files, music, videos, Favourites, Emails, Email address, Email receipts of electronic transactions, etc, etc etc.

Install or update your Antivirus program.
Scan you PC for 'Spyware' & 'Dialers'.
Do another back-up.
DO it today!!!



In case you've been living under a rock or was born yesterday...
1. Don't open any emails with attachments on them, unless you know what it is and whom it's from.
2. Make sure your Antivirus is up-to-date and WORKING.

3. Run a full virus scan sometime today.

( AVG is free - )
4. Check you Spyware / Walware software is up-to-date and WORKING.

 ( Spybot, Adaware and AVG are all free: )



Things you must do with the next 7 days......

1.  Back up any data to the network, CD writer, floppies or just plain print them out to paper!
2.  Put your backup somewhere NOT next to the computer.
3.  Buy and install or update your anti-virus program.
4.  Buy and install a Firewall ( Stops people hacking into your PC - do a internet search for -
     personal firewall ).
Scan your PC for 'spyware',  'dialers' & 'Trojan horses' (rogue & malicious computer programs
     downloaded via web pages or emails to your computer ).    I was horrified to at what it found!-


Right, how do you do any of the above?

If it's your personal / home computer, buy an internal or external CD writer - about 50 GBP.
Install it and backup everything that you can't afford to loose, (see above).

If you don't have a CD writer and don't want to buy one then 'on your own head be it!' You can always try to backup to floppies - I use WINZIP ( ) but as windows files tend to be very large these days backing up to floppies is not recommended.

For small amounts of data you can email yourself the data / documents, that way it's stored (sort of) on an internet server. This option only really works if you can access your  email online eg. Hotmail Yahoo mail etc.
The last & least option is just to cut down a few trees and physically print out important data / documents.  This is not the recommend method of backing stuff up but at least you'll have something tangible!!

( If you use a computer on a network / at work, ask IT how to back your data up to your home drive / server.)

There are a lot of "nice" people out there that want to distroy all your data... just because they can, and a lot of other people that want to steal money from you via you're computer.

AVG - It's FREE & very good !!!

Norton anti-virus





What you can do for yourself... now!

ScanDisk - Check your hard Disk.

Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > ScanDisk - use Thorough option .
(This can take several hours to run.)

Disk Defragmenter - Consolidate all that data.

Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter.
(This can take many hours to run so run over night.)

Outlook express

Reduce the size of the mail files and speed it up.

Open up Outlook express.
File > Folder > Compact All folders

Save your emails ( and loads of other things that are really useful )

Open windows explorer - Start > Programs > Windows Explorer ( or Start > Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer )

Find your application data (Email files)

Windows 98 / ME etc = C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Identities
Windows XP               = C:\Documents and Settings\martin\Application Data\Identities
- copy this directory ( Edit > Copy )

Then Paste it back to the same directory - Windows.

This will duplicate the folder.

Although this won't prevent data loss, I'll have 2 chances of trying to get some of it back!

Save your email addresses
In Outlook - Click on Addresses.

File > Export > Address Book (WAB)... - save it to C:\ ( or C:\disks if I've built your PC ) -

- Name it something like Backup Address book or Sept 2004.

Save your mail settings.
In Outlook - Tools > Accounts... - for each of you MAIL ACCOUNTS, click export and save to C:\ ( or C:\disks if I've built your PC )

Here's a conversation I sometimes have at work...

Fault reported:
Laptop / Computer not working or "No fixed present" or "Non system disk error" or "No IDE device present"

Engineers Report:
Hard drive failed. Replaced Hard drive - UNABLE to recover any DATA.

The conversation goes something like this...
Me = Technician
DCU = Distraught Computer User

DCU: I switched my computer on this morning and it's asking for a boot disk.
Me: Your Hard drive's gone. I've have to replace it and you'll have to start from scratch.
DCU: What does that mean?
Me: You've lost all your data.
DCU: What does that mean?!!
Me: It means, you've lost all your data.
DCU: What everything?
Me: Yes.
DCU: But I've got really important company data on there. (This usually means funny emails and high scores!)
Me: Never mind, I'll replace the hard drive and I can restore from your last backup.
DCU: You have a backup of my PC?
Me: NO, you do. You do have a current backup don't you? (Trying my best to look
DCU: No one told me to do backups!
Me: What was going to do if your PC got stolen or, as in this case, crashed?
DCU: I was going to do a back last week when the PC started making funny noises but I didn't have time.
Me: ( Been here - done this ) When last did you do a backup?
DCU: About a week ago, I think. ( The backup turns out to be from 18 months ago! )
Me: I can use this backup but you'll have lost everything you've done in the last 18 months.
DCU: (Now turning green) What can you do?
Me: I can replace your hard drive and you'll have to start again.
DCU: What about my data?
Me: "I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave before." You've lost all your data.
DCU: Even my documents?
Me: Yes.
DCU: My emails?
Me: Yes.
DCU: I had some very important emails with lots of money riding on them. Are you sure there are gone?
Me: Yes.
DCU: But you haven't even looked at the machine!
Me: I've been in this game... Sorry. I've been a technician a long time.
DCU: (Now starting to get indignant) I want a second opinion!
Me: ( Oh what a surprise! - a stroppy customer trying to shift the blame.)
I could go and come back in an hour and say the same thing!
DCU: Can the data be recovered?
Me: Yes. We can send it away to a data recovery company,
but it will cost you the price of the hard drive, plus the cost of the recovery service plus handling.
DCU: How much will that be?
Me: I costed one last month - it came to nearly 1000.
DCU: What?
Me: Nearly a grand.
DCU: I'm in the wrong game.
Me: Me too.
DCU: Is there anything YOU can do?
Me: Well I can connect it up to another PC to see if any data is available as a secondary drive using a contiguous bit
algorithm pattern data deliminator 64bit search program via a different operating system.
DCU: Huh?
Me: I can work magic.
DCU: Will that save my data?
Me: No.
DCU: Then why do it?
Me: I want to leave now, I want a cup of coffee now.

Me: I take the PC / laptop away, check it in another machine - takes 10 mins.
Hard drive is dead, no data can be recovered! I replace hard drive, rebuild software, takes 2 hours.
Put dud hard drive in the bin.

DCU: ( 2 days later ) Did you manage to save any data?
Me: I'm still trying. These things take time.

DCU: ( 2 days later ) Did you manage to save any data yet?
Me: No "I'm a worn tied piece of string."
DCU: Huh?
Me: I'm "a frayed knot". Get it?
DCU: (Polite laugh. DCU doesn't want to upset me now.) Please tell me you've managed to save my data?
Me: You've lost all your data.
DCU: Well send off my hard drive to a data recovery company.
Me: OK. Raise 3 purchase orders. One for the cost of the drive, one for the data recovery company and one for my handling charge. The purchase orders need to open ended.
DCU: And they will be able to recover my data?
Me: Oh no! That's just the initial cost to SEE IF THEY CAN recover any data. They give no guarantees!
DCU OK, ok. I'll raise the purchase orders.

DCU: ( A week later - after the purchase orders have failed to materialise and DCU manager has dressed down DCU for not making backups and trying to raise large purchase orders 'on the quiet'. )
"Can you come up and replace my hard drive and reload my software, I have to start from scratch."




Install or update your Antivirus program.
Do another back-up.
DO it today!!!

I can hear your hard drive making strange and worrying noises right now...




Model Boat Mayhem, Martin Davis or any contributors to this site are not responsible, in any way for loss of data that may result from application of this information - it's just personal advice from my own experience.
 All rights reserved... whatever that means!