my hard drive crashed / the importance of backups

4 06 2007

Recently my hard drive at home crashed.  My computer started running slowly, taking a long time to start programs.  At first I suspected it might be a virus, so I tried to look at Task Manager (which wouldn’t come up) and then browse through the system files for recent changes.  Then my computer suddenly rebooted on its own.  But it didn’t come all the way back up — the BIOS said “Disk I/O Error”, which you really don’t want to see.

On a later attempt at booting my PC, it got past the BIOS checks, but the disk scan was taking a really long time, finding a lot of bad areas, and then it gave up after about 20 minutes.  Windows booted, but I was unable to access certain areas of my hard drive.  Fortunately I was able to copy some of the files that I didn’t have backed up, so I lost only two or three percent of what I had.  It could’ve been much worse.  I did lose a few files which have inconvenienced me, but I was able to recover all the important stuff.

I do make backups on a somewhat regular basis, but I wasn’t backing up everything (mainly because I had a 120GB drive).  By almost losing those less-than-important files, I realized that some of them I valued more than I thought.  So I will now be more thorough in my backups.

I’ve talked with various people about this and learned that a lot of people don’t make backups on a regular basis, and some people never do.  If you have important documents on your computer, you need to make backups.  I keep a lot of important things on my computer, like pictures I’ve taken (including honeymoon pictures), music I’ve created, CDs I’ve mixed for others, tax filings, stock transactions, quotes I’ve collected, music I’ve bought online (from iTunes and ), etc.

I know it can be bothersome to make backups, but it’s definitely worth the trouble if your hard drive ever goes bad.  And that does happen occasionally.  This is the second time I’ve had a hard drive mess up (in 15 years).  Sometimes you get warning signs — like corrupted files, slow performance, or strange noises — but sometimes you have no chance at recovery.  It’s something everyone should consider.  Would it be a big deal if you lost everything stored on your computer?

By the way, you don’t have to use special backup software.  That can be helpful, but I just burn CDs or DVDs of the files that are important to me.  And it’s recommended to have multiple backups, in case some of the media fails.  I also recommend storing your backups off-site somewhere, like a safe-deposit box.




2 responses

11 06 2007
Chris Davis


Maxtor now has a 1 Terabyte external hard drive. Of course, it costs a pretty penny. But I picked up a 500 gb Maxtor drive today for $120. Not too bad.

12 06 2007

I know, I know… my replacement drive was a Western Digital 500 GB drive with 16 MB cache. It’s amazing how cheap storage is now. I remember paying $217 for my first hard drive upgrade, and that was for 545 MB (back around 1994 or so).

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