Today I have another anecdote about the value of having a backup of important files on home systems. Julie is the administrative assistant for one of my clients. She contacted me the other day regarding her home machine, and I agreed to have a look. After a recent thunderstorm, the machine was not booting at all. I picked up the machine and upon looking at it was immediately distressed by the sound. Once power was applied, the hard drive started making the ominous pinball machine sound that tells me the drive had been damaged.
I made some quick efforts to see if there was a chance I could recover files, but quickly determined that it was beyond my abilities. Not wanting to risk letting the drive damage itself further, I called Julie to let her know the score. Unfortunately, there was no backup of the drive and it contained a wealth of family pictures that she did not want to lose. We sent the drive off to a data recovery outfit on the East coast, offering free evaluations of what data they could recover. I prepared Julie for the possible costs of the recovery process, but she was figuratively over the barrel. Though we always consider these things having ‘sentimental’ value only, that value is actually higher than we usually think.
We opted for the low-priority option at the data recovery center, which meant that we had to wait several days for word regarding the progress. When we were finally contacted, the company informed us that they were able to recover a large portion of files from the directories that we specified (mostly pictures and personal files). The cost for recovery was over $500 and Julie didn’t really have any other options.
Needless to say, Julie is in the market for a new computer, as her old one was getting along in years. We discussed options for preventing this from happening again, and she’s opting for an online backup solution. We have created a sort of hybrid solution to keep her storage requirements under control as her volume of photos is fairly large.
- Archived photos from years past are burned to DVDs and multiple copies are made. These copies are distributed to family members across the country (something she always wanted to do anyway!)
- Current pictures are saved to the photo directory in her computer, which is backed up through the online backup service.
- As the photo directory reaches 4GB (around the size of a DVD), they are then burned to DVD and distributed.
Julie is feeling more confident now in the security of her system and is enjoying the comments from happy family members receiving the DVDs. If disaster strikes again, she can always get copies of her photos from her online backup or from family members across the country.
— The Backup Master