Forget the Fiscal Cliff…I’m on a Cyber Cliff!

A few days after Christmas 2007, I bought a new computer “box” for the first time in many years.  I had previously been upgrading my computer on an “as needed” basis by buying individual components, such as a motherboard or hard drive. This gave me a certain quality control which I liked.  For example, my last motherboard upgrade was an Asus, which has an excellent reputation.

In the fall of 2007, I planned on a sweeping upgrade – motherboard, memory, hard drive. But when I began pricing the cost of separate components I realized that the Christmas sales were a better bargain.  I was still concerned that by buying a new box instead of “premium” components I was losing some control. But I figured I could live with “adequate.”

I knew that computer deals were even better after Christmas so I waited until then to buy a Compaq on sale and with a rebate.  My new box had an AMD Athlon processor (which I prefer to Intel), 160 Gig hard drive (my old one was less than a Gig), DVD recorder, USB ports.  I now had a computer that was fairly “modern.”

In August of 2008, I added a 200 Gig Maxtor external hard drive.  I wanted to add a second internal hard drive which I could make bootable like I did with my old box .  I don’t know if it is a cost issue or what, but most of the pre-configured boxes these days do not have even one open bay for that, whereas my old box had at least two open internal bays. And because all hard drives eventually fail I also bought “cloning” software (Acronis True Image) so I could make an exact copy of the hard drive and replicate it if the worst happened.

If you don’t have cloning software, then you’re missing out on the best thing since the Internet.  Not to mention living dangerously…

Last Wednesday, that external hard drive failed even though it is eight months younger than the computer.  I wasn’t too concerned.  I had cloned my main hard drive.  But where was that clone?

My confidence changed to concern when I could not find the DVD with the cloned image.  I found various related disks, such a bootable CD and a “system recovery disk” which has all the programs, including Windows, which came with the computer.

I checked my Acronis log and found that I had made a clone to the external hard drive which is now dead.  I should have then made a copy of the clone to a DVD. But it now appears that I did not make that DVD.  So now I am somewhat “naked.”  If my main hard drive fails before I get a new external drive, all I can do is restore to the original programs that came with the new box.

Of course, I’ve not been relying only on the clone.  I have many files backed up to a CD or DVD, including photos, music, and web pages.  But almost no programs.  Reinstalling all my programs “manually” would be a…pain.

I immediately went into “quick response” mode.  After a few hours on the Internet, I found a Western Digital (which I used in my previous system) 500 Gig external drive for $69 before a $30 rebate from Tiger Direct.  (I think I paid more than $69 for my failed 200 Gig Maxtor!)

I decided that the probability of my hard drive failing before Friday (the latest delivery date for standard shipping) was low, so I didn’t pay for expedited shipping.  But until I receive the new drive I’m on a cyber cliff…

And once I do get that new drive, I’m moving most of my files to it so I can use Acronis to make a clone of my essential programs to both the new external drive and a DVD.  Make that two DVD clones, in case one of them goes bad.  With DVDs as cheap as they are, triple backup protection is sensible.

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