Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Please, please, please make sure you back up your home computer

We recently upgraded our personal computer. By my estimate, it now runs about a gajillion times faster than it did before.

That's great, but the big takeaway from the process for me was not "get yourself some fancy new hardware." It was the importance of maintaining a regular back-up schedule for your files.

We have so much valuable stuff on our desktop computer, from photos to financial information, that I don't even want to think about the consequences of losing it.

Still, for a day or so, we feared a good chunk of our stuff had gone to that great cyberspace trash bin in the sky. It was nerve-wracking.

We were working with local computer expert Tommy Otwell, a native Georgian who now lives in Wickliffe and knows more about hardware and software than I could ever possibly hope to learn.

Tommy rebuilds and sells computers and plays tech doctor for those in need. His rates are very low (to the point that I'm worried the man isn't making any money off of this), but he clearly knows his stuff inside and out.

I saw that Tommy was selling refurbished desktops and reached out to him about buying one. He looked at our current system specs and determined he could make our existing computer feel like new with only a few changes.

And, just as advertised, the system was screaming fast when he brought it back to us. It really was like having a new computer.

However, our precious and oft-used documents folder was missing dozens of subfolders and hundreds of files that had been there previously. These were files we used all of the time. I honestly panicked.

Thankfully, though, without getting into too much detail, Tommy recovered everything for us. It was a case of all's well that ends well when dealing with an old mechanical hard drive that was getting ready to fail.

Tommy rightfully scolded me for the fact that the most recent back-up I had of our documents was a year old. I thought I had done one more recently, but apparently not.

On Tommy's advice, I purchased a subscription to Carbonite, a service that automatically backs up your files on a regular basis and stores them on the mysterious Internet "cloud." Should something happen to our computer at any point, a very recent version of our stuff will be out there, just waiting to be restored.

I promised Tommy I would regularly check to ensure Carbonite is doing its job. I also promised him I would, every few months, use a can of compressed air to blow out the dust and cat hair that had accumulated in and around the CPU.

Seriously, you could have knitted a sweater with the stuff that was trapped in the cooling fan.

The point, ladies and gentlemen, is that your computer serves you well. Make sure you return the favor by treating it to some much-needed maintenance every once in a while.

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