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Friday, August 5, 2011

Backup your hard drive. No really.

It's advice everyone has heard, and most people do...sometimes. Keeping a safe backup of all your important files in an external hard drive.

I do it about once a month. My pictures, mostly, as that's what I most care about. TV shows, music and such? Maybe every six months. Documents? Not as often as I should.

Well, I had a small scare last week, and I almost lost 5 weeks worth of stuff because I had gotten lazy with my monthly backups. They shouldn't even be monthly, it should be more often than that.

Basically, I turned off my computer one night, and everything was well. Windows said it had to install a couple of updates, routine stuff.

Next morning, I turned on my PC, and Firefox was acting like it was brand new. My homepage was the default "thanks for downloading!" page. My history and bookmarks were all gone. I wasn't worried, Firefox does screw up sometimes, but it keeps automatic backups.

So I opened my secondary browser, Chrome, to do a google search on how to retore my Firefox stuff (I didnt want to use firefox to avoid overwriting the automatic backup). Well, Chrome was acting like it was brand new as well. Now I was slightly worried.

I eventually found where Firefox keeps the backup, so I opened up Documents....

And the folder was empty.

Music? Empty.
Video? Empty.
Pictures? Oh God, empty.

So now I was worried.

Extremely worried. Luckily, before panicking, I realized that my HDD was still safe. After all, if Firefox and Chrome were installed and working, clearly it hadn't been a total failure. I quickly opened up the "My Computer" screen...and my HDD was reporting that it was just as full (65%) as I had left it the night before.

So my documents were safe! Hopefully.

Turns out, my user name was corrupted, and the front end (software, quick links) weren't communicating with the back end (the actual files on the HDD). They were all there, and still worked fine, but the software couldn't find it. I just had to navigate to them the long way.

Don't ask me why.

Turns out, it wasn't a hard fix. Annoying, yes, but not hard. I had to create two new user accounts, the one I'd want to use, and a middleman. I then had to log into the middleman, find the files the long way (C>Users>James>Documents vs just James>Documents) and simply transfer them to the new account.

Took a few hours (I dont know why, as the files didnt move anywhere) but they're all safe. And all my firefox history, bookmarks, passwords etc were working again.

And of course, I did a full backup to an external drive. TV shows and all.

So please, dear readers, do not neglect those important backups. It may seem unimportant now, but by the time you realize you REALLY should have been doing it, it may have been too late.

I got lucky (as lucky as wasting a few hours is). That may not always be the case.

Also, I'm back in Fresno, from Boston.

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