Wednesday, March 26, 2008


You will have noticed how quiet things have been from this desk over the last month or so. It has not been the result of holidays or other equivalent inactivity (much to my own disappointment!) I returned home one February morning to see the dreaded "blue screen" on my computer, which reported a dump in progress and inviting a restart. This could not be good news. In fact, the worst. Restart went OK until the time for the hard drive to kick into action arrived. All I could mount in response was the message "No HDD" and an unwelcome and foreboding clunking sound coming from said HDD. Thus began another journey through the digital world.

Having lost a computer due to break-in many years ago (with no backup), I now have a regular back-up plan. I had recently upgraded to Norton 360, which offers a back-up regime. Having backed up only four days earlier, I was not overly worried about data loss. Until, that is, I went to restore data to the new HDD.

For some reason, Norton had failed to recognise and back up any folders I had created in 2008! This meant the loss of a not-insignificant amount of work. Norton 360 also, for some reason, does not back up non-Microsoft web-browsing and email programs, meaning that Firefox and Thunderbird Mail, contacts, bookmarks and the like had not been backed up at all. Grrr.

At this point I searched for data recovery specialists. The first quote to resurrect the drive came in at a cool $2500. This was reduced to $2200 when I indicated I would take my business elsewhere. Another search brought me a quote of around $700, at which point it seemed worth the effort, particularly with a no-data-no-fee policy.

Meanwhile I began the process of reinstalling programs on my new HDD. Fortunately I had placed all disks in one location, so the process wasn't as fraught as it might have been, although it is a lengthy task. Following installation, the search for updates begins. If you run Windows XP, you'll know how many that can mean, let alone office etc, as well as reinstalling and updating Norton 360 and other programs. It's at least a day's work.

Then, on opening documents once again, you realise that you need to reconfigure all settings. Then you realise that some fonts have not been reinstalled. (Norton 360 doesn't back up fonts either). Obviously one program I didn't reinstall carried a font I had used on a number of documents in DTP.

After recovering the computer and getting it operative once again, I received a call from the Hard Drive Doctor, who indicated that he had recovered the drive with 100% data recovery. Woohoo!

Then becomes the process of recovering and resynchronising data... Having used the new setup for a couple of weeks, there were files which had been edited, others created, and emails sent, read and deleted. When trying to open 'recovered' files, I found that some were corrupted - the FAT had recognised their existence, but sectors were damaged.

I now have recovered copies, reconstructed copies, backup copies and other copies of files on three HDDs. And a new backup regime that also targets the Fonts folder as well as the information under Documents and Settings for all programs.

I'm glad computers can save so much time... I think I have spent a bit of it over the last month getting it all back together.

And the interesting timing? I received the note from the Hard Disk Doctor that he had recovered data on Easter Saturday!