Friday, 20 November 2009

Win, WIN7 …

My email

Windows 7 installed. Windows 7 working without a hitch. Windows 7 is a winner as far as I am concerned!

If you are still hesitant about taking the plunge, agonising about moving from XP or Vista to Windows 7, let me encourage you to do it now.

You will NOT regret it.

This is a brief update on my trials and tribulations concerning the disk failures I suffered, something that is of really no great importance to you. However, there are a few 'discoveries' I've made during this disaster (why is it that all personal problems appear to be disasters?) that might warn you about following a similar line of laissez-faire (French for 'leave it alone'). The old adage of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is fine under most circumstances. I am here to tell you that adopting that attitude with your computer is bound to eventually give you grief.

A lot of it!

You are probably totally bored with the advice about backing up your system, and I don't blame you. It is a chore that I find mind-numbing in the extreme, although I follow the experts' advice and do a regular weekly backup. Usually on a Sunday. Scheduled for the time I feel I will not be using the computer, which allows the system to backup without any hindrance from me. And without the backup process slowing the computer down to a crawl when I am trying to use it. Makes sense, huh?

Oh, don't forget to backup to an external drive that isn't going to go TU if, or rather when, your hard drive fails. It is a pointless exercise backing up your disk to a partition on the SAME disk. Laughable? You might think so, but I recently read a tech newsletter where a 'professional' confessed rather shamefacedly that he did just that (a temporary measure, he said) and lost everything when his hard drive failed. Huge capacity drives, 1TB or more, are very reasonably priced these days, but it really depends on what value you attach to your personal data. Hiring a commercial company to retrieve your lost data would cost you five or six times the price of an external hard drive. No-brainer!

Next step in the backup process, equally boring, is to make sure that the system is actually doing what you asked it to do. How do you do that? Easy. Select one of the backups and 'Restore' it. I did that with my last computer.


Yep, a huge gotcha! I really didn't pay close enough attention as to HOW Microsoft does its backups. They tell you all the good stuff like how you can restore backups from an old computer to a new one with their built-in functionality, or transfer all your data and settings with one click, or how they have anticipated what you the idiot-user might need. But they don't tell you sufficiently clearly enough that the backup is less than complete. In some respects a total waste of time and space.


They consider these as 'executables', although they DO tell you that the backup is for your DATA only. Sadly, to my simple mind, the promise of a backup and the ability to restore it to how it was was, speaks volumes as to my ability to do just that, expecting my programmes to run seamlessly. Unforunately that isn't so!

Bummer! Had to find that out the hard way!

So in my case it became a 'double-whammy'! I managed to claw back bits of the backups from the unaffected backup disk (Maria doing the hard work of unzipping them), but they were less than complete, missing the executables. My earlier 'tests' to check that the backups could restore worked fine, because the backups reinstalled themselves into the folders that already had those executables in the folder. In those 'test' circumstances, running a programme after restoring a backup doesn't flag up any irregularities. So a dumb-cluck like me is happy that everything is working as it should!

When my web hosts had their concurrent RAID failure and advised all users of the server to reinstall their programmes, I didn't flinch too much. Even when they dismissed my attempts to get them to restore the backups that they ostensibly make on a daily basis. They took delight in informing me (at least, that is how it seemed!) that backups of my sites and databases was my responsibility (read the small print, Sir!). I quickly uploaded all the folders I had retrieved from my own backups to the server using FTP.


And I didn't know it until I started to see evidence of broken scripts on my website and blogs. Things that worked perfectly before the double failures suddenly didn't want to do what they were asked to. Graphics, which were unaffected, wouldn't display because the scripts that ran them weren't available. Mouseovers and pop-up boxes behaved similarly.

It has been a long, tedious process tracking down all these little devils, but I think most have been restored.

Moral of the story? Use a backup programme that backs up ALL your information. Here are a couple of links so that you can take a look for yourself.

Did I mention they are all FREE?

I shall be trying out some of these little gems to see which suits me best, but you needn't wait to go get one that appeals to you if you feel it is an absolute necessity to get into the backup habit.

And you should, you know! So, off you go ...

back to the top