As you may recall, I wrote previously about ‘Why and How to Backup Your Data’ and Disaster Plans and, if you are like most people, you skimmed those posts and filed them under “It’ll Never Happen To Me” and went on with your life. And I understand, because no one likes to think about that sort of thing.
It happened to me!
The thing is, this isn’t just something that people talk about to freak you out and make you paranoid. Hard drive crashes happen all the time. I am (unfortunately) living proof.
One day I was happily working on a project on my computer and the screen froze up. No big deal – right? This happens sometimes. My attempt to restart ended with my computer displaying the most gut-wrenching error message I’ve ever received “NO HARD DRIVE FOUND”.
While it was an inconvenience, I survived the ordeal with pretty much no data loss (the project I was working on at the time of the crash was a casualty, but in the big picture, it was a pretty small loss).
What My Hard Drive Crash Looked Like
Cursing (Hey, I’m human)
Attempt to reboot (I was previously unaware that computers make zombie noises)
Fired up the ol’ laptop (Whew! I could still work until the hard drive was extracted/replaced)
Extract Hard Drive and Test (Nope, not even an attempt at spinning up)
Purchase of a new hard drive (Day after the crash)
Install new hard drive and operating system (Not too difficult)
Discovery that some of the drivers are not on the recovery disc that came with the computer or on the OS disc. More cursing ensued. (What can I say, I’m “colorful”)
Found needed drivers online and transferred them via flash drive to computer (Yay! All of my peripherals work again!)
So, I once again had an operating computer that had no software installed on it. The fun was just beginning. (Fortunately, the laptop facilitated my ability to work while reloading everything.)
My Hard Drive Recovery Process
Install critical software (you have that backed up/on a disc somewhere, right? I did)
Reconnect with cloud backup (Wow… there’s a lot of stuff there)
Download files from the cloud backup (This actually takes a longer time than I had imagined and lead me to rethink a couple of things when organizing the new hard drive)
Pull some older backed up files from my external hard drives (Much quicker than the downloads)
And there I was, back in business on my regular computer in a couple of days and didn’t have to explain to any clients that all of their data was gone. (Huzzah for no angry clients!)
As I said, there were some lessons learned in the process and I have made some changes to how I organize things.
It’s probably a really good idea to store files you’ll need for clients somewhere like Dropbox or Google Drive. That way you will have access without having to wait for downloads from your cloud backup.
Files tend to get large. Try to break things down into sub-folders so that you are able to download files measured in MB, not GB. It may seem tedious sometimes, but you’ll thank yourself if you ever have a drive crash (as long as you’ve got all the folders backed up).
External Hard Drives are your friends (Yes, my redundancy is likely overkill, but you will note I lost hardly any data).
Do some housekeeping now and then on your hard drive and any external drives (Ok, I found a few instances where I had a file saved on all three of my external drives PLUS in at least one folder in the cloud).
It’s probably a good idea to visit your data in cloud storage now and then just to be sure you’re backing up everything that you need to be backing up.
So, there you have it, my story of what could have been a complete disaster that, thanks to having a plan and keeping up on my backups was pretty much just a really annoying inconvenience. If you want to know more about hard drive failure rates, there’s a good article here.