I know, right? It is so unlikely that it hurts the brain to even try and imagine that scenario.
And that is precisely how I felt last Sunday when I turned on my computer (that had been working flawlessly when I turned it off a few hours before) and received a blue screen of death that said something about boot files. Being a multi decade “computer guy”, this was never supposed to happen to me. I buy well researched business-class parts and then lovingly build it to my specs, and I pay attention to every little thing AND I backup. With Carbonite. A truly set it and forget it backup software that is truly amazing. Due to this fact, I never worried about my DATA. You know, photos, docs, and all the little flotsam and jetsam that makes up a “personal” computer.
I tried a few tricks I had learned over the years and NO GO. Dead in the water. All my documents, photos, bookmarks and passwords were still there, I just could not get to them. Very stressful. If I client had called and asked me to login to their website I would not have been able to. I know that passwords can be stored other places (like iPhone etc.) but I have not done that yet.
And being a true computer dude, I also knew that if I did have to get a new hard drive and reset it up and download all my stuff, well, that would take some serious time. A full day or two. And time is a much appreciated commodity these days for sure. End of Summer, superb weather, being outdoors, no traffic, etc. But I know this. If I had not had Carbonite, there would be a real problem. A data recovery problem. Which very often do not bode well. And are very expensive and time consuming. “Send us your hard drive, wait, we got half your stuff, etc.” I was eternally grateful for Carbonite.
I went to Best Buy and spent out of budget money on a new hard drive, in case I would need it. $85, but still, not in the budget. And after a few hours (remember, I had not done this type of work in almost a half decade) I was at least back online with my passwords, a browser and well, that was about it. Real bare bones.
This let me do further research on the issue. Trust me, that does not work so well doing it from a small iPhone! I found, as I always do, that others have had this problem. And they had many ideas on what would work. The first five did not work. So many videos on YouTube. They all wanted to help, but none worked.
I then tried the most complex solution, harking back to the days of the “C” prompt, executed a bunch of DOS commands that I had not used in decades. Big hope and… NOPE. Same error message, with maybe just a subtle difference. I rebooted yet again out of sheer frustration, looked away, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw something I had not seen in many hours. The Windows Login Screen! You know, the one with the beautiful landscape photo on it. Could it be? I tried to login and in seconds, there was all my stuff. The sense of relief was palpable. All was good. Well, there is still a little hiccup or two, but basically I was back up and running. First thing I did was what is called a Local Backup. No cloud here. Just an external drive, some seriously as never let me down. If the original hard drive HAD gone totally south, this could have made a full repair easier. But not just a one click thing, but still, easier than downloading all data from Carbonite. (with that much data, even today’s broadband speed is not enough. It would take a day or two just to download)
Believe me, I know how I felt about this meltdown and I am quite versant with computers. I can only imagine how someone who did not work with computers for a living might feel. Ouch! The really BIG TAKEWAY here is use Carbonite! They even have a higher priced offering that handles Local Backup like I mentioned above. I have not used that feature lately so cannot speak to how easy it is. But it is well worth a look see if you value anything on your computer. (I have used Acronis Image for a long time to handle local backups.)
Pretty much any computer emergency like this even with proper backups will take some time and money to get straightened out. But it is 1000 times easier with Carbonite and 2000 times easier with Acronis Image also. Nevertheless, you will spend some time and money to get back up and running. It is unavoidable.
Another interesting fact here is that if I had a second computer, I could have gone online to research and download necessary files and transfer them to the broken computer. But with the iPad I did have, that is not possible. Sure, I can research and watch YouTube on it, but no downloading files and putting them on a USB drive. Snakebite! I may very well get a cheap laptop at some point.
Another important take away here is that the only place I had my Master Password was on the darn computer! This is the password that unlocks all my other passwords. (About 350 passwords) I had better put that on a piece of paper somewhere. If I had that, I could have gone online on ANY computer, logged in to my password manager’s website and had access to all my online sites and client sites. Write down that Master Password!
If you are reading this, that means you made it through the Summer 🙂 Congratulations! And now we start to get back our Cape Cod that we know and love. Happy Labor Day.
Will I see you on the trail?