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Can’t Happen To Me (?)

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No, it can’t happen to me.  I’m prepared for just about all contingencies.  I’m careful in my procedures.  What could go wrong?   The worst that could happen would result in only a couple of hours extra work.  I’ll give it a little more thought tomorrow. 

These are some choice selections from my catalog of “Famous Last Words.”  I’ve uttered them quite often.  So much so that they deserve a separate section right at the top of the catalog.  th (3)I’m sure that almost everyone reading these words are totally familiar with them.

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Funny thing, though – I seem to have stumbled upon an otherwise unobserved characteristic that they all share.  For lack of an official title, I’ll just call it the “maximum utterance limit.”  It’s defined as “the maximum number of times that each can be spoken before being disproved or displaying that the underlying concept is false.”

I now have empirical evidence that this characteristic exist.  I’ve uttered a couple of those selections one too many times.  I’ve exceeded the limit.

IT HAPPENED TO ME 

Apparently, I have expressed this first denial of reality – either verbally or in thought – too many times.  I breached its limit quite handily last week, and I’ve been paying for it ever since.  To my dismay, I also discovered that each of these selections are an active corollary of the others.  In short, when it rains, it pours.   The corollary that kicked in was the one about the result being only a couple of hours extra work.

What was it? you ask?  It was a hard disk drive crash in my laptop computer.  The very laptop that I thheavily rely on for oh, so many things.  It didn’t happen all at once, but I failed to recognize the initial symptoms and it teasingly occurred over a couple of days’ time.

The first indication was difficulties with my email application, Microsoft Office Outlook.  Abnormal activities with managing my email started with a single glitch, and worked its way up to near-inability to do much more than read the mail.  Immediately backing up all emails, I jumped right in to troubleshooting mode.

The result of a few hours of poking around, reading numerous FAQs and software support articles, and finally asking for technical assistance, was instructions to reinstall Microsoft Office, of which Outlook is an integral part (and couldn’t be reinstalled by itself).   I tried it – a gazillion times – but the reinstallation just wouldn’t go.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG DID 

Further tinkering around provided me with more unwanted insight.  That, and the slowly creeping crash, showed me the folly of the earlier expressed sentiments and sounded the alarm bells.  I needed to back up all of my data – something for which I was not prepared.  Only at this moment did I realize how much data was on that drive in need of saving.  I didn’t have any storage media available to handle the load.

th (1)A quick trip to the local electronics emporium netted me a new 64 GB flash drive and a 2 TB (that’s two terabytes, or 2,000,000,000,000 bytes) external drive.  Now, I was well armed for the task at hand. Overkill?   No, not in the frantic mind of a near-panicking high-tech troubleshooter.

Connecting the external drive (which was made in the Philippines, by the way) to the laptop provided additional insight into the severity of what I was facing.  It took numerous attempts for the “plug and play” feature to recognize something new was being added to the mix.  When it finally did, and tried to install the necessary driver, a new error occurred. The driver couldn’t load.

I was no better off than I was at the beginning of my endeavors.  Thank goodness that I could still communicate with the software support folks, albeit not as well as when this sick laptop was feeling better.

THE ULTIMATE FIX

Everything came down to a solution that I feared:  After fully repairing the hard disk drive and verifying that it was, indeed, repaired and fully usable, I needed to restore the laptop’s software and firmware to “fresh from the factory” condition.  That meant that everything on the drive would be deleted – wiped clean – and that the drive would be reformatted.  Next, the operating system th (2)and all of the initial programs and applications would be loaded back onto the drive via a clean installation.

Fighting off panic at the thought of losing something, anything, I realized that I needed a system repair kit containing everything I needed to renew the health of this sick puppy of a laptop.  I ordered and received the kit from the manufacturer, and immediately used the kit to repair the driver installation problem.  Success!  (A long time coming success.)   I got the laptop talking with the external drive, and completed a 10-hour data backup.

With fingers crossed, after insuring myself that everything that needed to be saved was, I started the process of turning old to new.  We were “off to the races.”

ARE WE THERE, YET? 

As I sit here writing, the process goes on.  All appears to have gone well with the process, so far.   All of the software and applications have been reloaded.   The process is in its final stages – UPDATES.  Yes, everything that was put back into the laptop has to be brought up to date.  From what I see, that’s about three years of various upgrades and improvements for all of that software.  th (4)166 updates for the operating system and its ancillary applications, alone.

SO,  WHAT DID WE LEARN?   Obviously, periodic backups of data and periodic preventive maintenance measures for computer health rise to the top of the list. Too, don’t let your guard down when using the computer to download and open emails and files.   Antivirus applications are a must, as well as using discretion in what you download and from where you download it.  Finally, recognize that disaster may be a keystone away.   Be prepared for it, regardless of how remote you believe it may be.

I couldn’t detect any “Reset” for that “maximum utterance limit,” either.   Who knows?   The next crash could be just a couple of words away.

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PaulK

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 40+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

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Tom N
Tom N
7 years ago

We have all been there, Paul. Glad it worked out. I just went through this with my daughter’s computer.

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Tom N

Hi Tom – Thank. It’s quite a journey to take, as you know, but most satisfying at journey’s end. 😉

Richard Bowen
Richard Bowen
7 years ago

Paul, What you describe: I’ve been there: Done that… I use a Mac, not a PC, but this solution is not platform unique. For less than $70, Amazon will be glad to sell you a 1, 2 or 3TB hard drive (I think we are paying for the housing and cable and the drive must be free!). My regular desktop shows an internal 1GB Hard Drive with 12GB memory. The 2 Icons below that show a 3TB “Time Machine” that backs up the primary drive, real time. Below that is another external 2TB hard drive where I keep a bucket… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Richard Bowen

Hi Richard – That’s quite the solution you have there. For now, I think I’ll stick with my new 2TB external drive for backing up data and periodically making images of the system drive.

One thing extra that I’m going to try: Stop uttering those “Famous Last Lines”! 😉

Tito Joe
Tito Joe
7 years ago

After having had sevral fails in the past and one Theft of device, I go even further to back things up. Local: A fireproof and flood proof external hardrive That accepts wirless feeds via the router for constant unattended backups. Made by a company call iOSafe, pricey but worth every penny Web: While it has been several years since I “downloaded mail to outlook” most services provide several gigs of free storage and that is where my mail lives these days….online with Google for work type items and Yahoo for eveything else pesonal and semi pro. Outlook was banished several… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Tito Joe

Hi Joe – I thought of many of the options you’ve employed, but have reconsidered some of them. I’d like to backup to Carbonite, but when I’m back home in the islands, my interent provider’s speed (especially uploading speed) is very slow. I find the new 2TB drive (which is waterproof and fire resistant should suffice. I have other options available, but will be testing them out when I return home.

Thanks for all of the neat ideas, though. 😉

DaveRo
DaveRo
7 years ago

For those that use Apple products, their recently announced new Cloud Drive sounds promising. The price is pretty competitive as well.

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  DaveRo

Hi Dave – Microsoft, Intuit, and other tech companies offer similar drives in the cloud. I may look at that option, but then, it sets my data out where it could be vulnerable to the next big hack. 😉

Richard Bowen
Richard Bowen
7 years ago

In my post above, I forgot one thing: There is one other piece of hardware that I am a firm believer in: a good UPS (Uninterruptible power supply) unit. Basically you plug the unit into the wall (electrical source), then plug your computer into the unit, and you can expect something like 15 more minutes of power when the real power goes out, as in the daily brownouts in the Philippines. That 15 minutes gives you time to gracefully save your files that are open and the system will not hang as it is still receiving power. Here in Florida,… Read more »

Tito Joe
Tito Joe
7 years ago
Reply to  Richard Bowen

On the UPS comment: the better ones also install software that will automatically shut down the computer and all open programs if it gets to its last 10% of backup power. (for those times when you may be away from the unit.) You are so correct that these are very helpful when power is not dependable. In fact my newer APC branded UPS devices take input voltages of 110-240V. They are also very useful if the power does go out, but Cell connections still work and your using LTE for internet. You can still surf away while the candles burn… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Richard Bowen

I agree Richard & Joe – UPS is the way to go.

Rick Lowe
7 years ago

And with a 25 year track record of fixing various Windows PC’s, Laptops and other devices, as well as supporting 15k users, I can state with utmost confidence the following: Get rid of Windows based junk. Move to a Mac, it will be the best thing you ever did. In 8 years of using Macs (and trust me i was one of the last converts), I have NEVER had a crash. Also get a Dropbox account and keep all your documents, presentations, and spreadsheets there in case you do something stupid like accidentally deleting something, such as a folder or… Read more »

Tito Joe
Tito Joe
7 years ago
Reply to  Rick Lowe

Rick! You nailed it sir. 100%, and I only converted last month on my own Laptop and could not be a happier clam. Now I have to get the rest of the family to let go and let Windows slide into the trash so I can reclaim the rest of my wasted time fixing issues. Macs may cost a bit more, but when you way the waste of time you spend tinkering with windows it more than compensates. Unless of course folks like fixing the computer and not WORKING with the computer. Windows is a time suck ever since version… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Rick Lowe

Hi Rick – Wonder if the ratio of Windows based computers to Apple computers has anything to do with the higher number of Windows machines having been under your knife? Most computer crashes (as mine was) are hardware problems, not software or operating system problems. My crash was due to a part of a sector on my hard drive, which just happened to have the Outlook email application written on it, going south. Prior to formatting and reloading the system software, I ran a disc checking diagnostic application from an external flash drive and discovered the flaw, and made sure… Read more »

Brenton Butler
Brenton Butler
7 years ago

Hi Paul – Drop Box and Sugar Sync are free or really cheap cloud based solutions. If you have these you can access information from any computer as long as you have internet. They are real easy to use as well!

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Brenton Butler

Hi Brenton – I use Dropbox, and other methods to save data. I didn’t loose any data when my drive crashed. Most backup software and systems backup data only, and not applications (executable programs). My problem occurred on the hard drive at a spot where my email application was written.

I agree with the ease of use!

DaveRo
DaveRo
7 years ago

Rick agree 100%. Switched to a mac a couple years ago and will NEVER return to windows. Currently using a 2013 Macbook air. Absolute pleasure to use.

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  DaveRo

Dave – Until the Lotto comes in, I’ll have to stick with what I have! 😆

DaveRo
DaveRo
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Agree, the upfront cost is definitely more. I don’t plan on upgrading for several years, so I hope it lasts. I’m retiring this week and immediately moving to the Philippines, so my disposable income will be dramatically less from now on.

John Weeks
John Weeks
7 years ago
Reply to  DaveRo

I agree with all the Mac and Dropbox recommendations. I, by the way, also run Windows on my MacBook Air (using the free – and surprisingly easy – VirtualBox application by Oracle) – but only because my clients occasionally require it. I can safely say I will never willingly go back to a PC. Paul, there are refurbished units available for sale with warrantees on your next trip back to the States. It’s an old tired argument that Macs are too expensive. When you consider the lower costs of the hardware these days and add to it all the free… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  John Weeks

Hi John – Perhaps I will consider a switch to Apple products when it’s time to upgrade hardware. For now, however, I’ve too much hardware to justify an additional purchase. Not cheap, but sensible: Can’t see having laptops sitting around, collecting dust, when they can still be used. 😉

Jim Sweeney.
Jim Sweeney.
7 years ago

Why not use a solid state drive? No electro-mechanics to fail so a crash is not possible in that sense. Then, as flash drives are so cheap, back up your data every night to a flash drive. You also need a mirror image flash drive for your software as it doesn’t copy well. The solid-state drive in my desktop also fits in my ThinkPad.

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Jim Sweeney.

Hi Jim – Not having one of those money trees in the back yard, as many in the islands believe every expat has, I can’t afford all of the nice toys (and still pay for all of my wife’s nice toys and things 😆 ).

Flash drives are nice – trouble is, I can’t find one that will backup 200MB of data. 😉

Jim Sweeney.
Jim Sweeney.
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

You are out of the tech loop then. Go to Amazon; enter flash drives, Top of the list is a San/disk 32GB flash drive for $20. Your 200MB looks pretthy puny by comparison

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Jim Sweeney.

Hi Jim – Yes, that would be puny! 😆

My typo – my comment should have read, “Flash drives are nice – trouble is, I can’t find one that will backup 200GB of data.”

The cost of four 64GB flash drives would exceed the cost of a single 2TB external drive. 64GB is the largest I’ve found for a reasonable ( < $50 ) price.

Richard Bowen
Richard Bowen
7 years ago

I have five Mac’s in the house! My favorite by far is the 27 inch iMac (Yes, size does matter …) For durability, there is a beast of a Desktop Mac Pro sitting in the old bedroom – the system has not been updated for years but it will still boot-up! Darn thing refuses to die…For years I earned a living working Photoshop on a Dell PC at the space center. After eight hours of “work” it was still a pleasure to come home and “play” in Photoshop and Lightroom on the Mac. == Sorry Paul … not trying to… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Richard Bowen

Never thought I’d facilitate a Windows vs Apple debate blog! 😆

John Weeks
John Weeks
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

And look at all the comments too! You’re on a roll!!!

Paul
Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  John Weeks

😆

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