What I’ve been hearing about from my friends lately are complaints about computers that just packed it in unexpectedly. That in of itself is an oxymoron. After all, who ever expects their computer to call it a day? The big problem isn’t necessarily that the entire computer decided to quit. Often it’s the failure of the computer’s hard drive, which has the biggest impact on users, whether you’re a MAC, PC, or even a Linux user.
“Who ever expects their computer to call it a day?“
However, as this former IT team member can tell you. Hard drive failures are actually more common than you’d think. With one name brand PC maker, who will remain nameless here, you could almost predict what hard drive would fail next based upon the date of purchase. Particularly, when dealing with laptops. With most laptops offering a shelf life of five-seven years on average, it’s not uncommon that they see at least one hard drive failure during that time frame.
What does that mean to the average computer user? Goodbye Uncle Mel’s fiftieth birth photos, goodbye graduate thesis, goodbye video from the kids’ birthdays…you get the idea. When a hard drive fails, sometimes the data is recoverable, but often, it’s not. So, what can you do to prepare yourself for the day you have computer probs? Here’s my own personal hot-list, of tips and tricks I always employ in case my equipment goes down.
- Dropbox. There are tons of clouds computing options out there now. If you don’t know what cloud computing is, imagine you sent your data up to sit on a cloud. No matter what the weather below the clouds, your data would sit above the weather, totally unaffected. With Dropbox, you sign up for a free account, and you can store your data in a folder you control. The cool part is that on your machine, it looks exactly like a regular folder. You can drag files in and out of it. The best part, you can access your data from any Smartphone, tablet, or any computer, as long as it has Internet access. So if your computer goes down, drive on over to the public library and get back to work!
“You can access your data from any Smartphone,
tablet, or any computer, as long as it has Internet access.”
- Gmail. Want to make sure you can access your e-mail from anywhere? Consider sticking with a web-based mail client like Gmail. Unlike applications like MAC Mail or Outlook, which make it all too easy to pull mail onto your computer’s hard drive, Gmail keeps everything on-line. The best feature is a slick Archive capability that allows you to keep your Inbox uncluttered and your mail accessible through the All Mail feature.
- Picasa. I’m a Google fan in a couple of respects. I love the way Google handles mail, but I also like their photo solutions. The Picasa tool is great, because it not only offers a robust desktop tool, but it also boasts a nice upload feature. There are storage limitations, but for most folks, this could easily house a majority of your digital photos. Although you could use Dropbox for this same function, why not choose a solution, which enables you to tag, manipulate, and categorize your pics in a meaningful way?
- External Storage. If you have way too many files, music or otherwise to take advantage of Dropbox or Picasa, consider and external hard drive. Though they might seem a little intimidating at first, a One Terabyte drive, that’s computer speak for really freaking huge, now goes for about $89 US. You just plug in the hard drive’s power, plug it into the USB port on your laptop and it acts just like another drive on your computer.
- Defend Your Turf. Unless you’re running Linux on your machine, there’s a ton of garbage on the Internet, just waiting to make its way onto your pristine little PC. So make sure, you’ve got a great Antivirus tool in place to help you out. Avast Antivirus is free and thorough when it comes to coming your computer for viruses, (a.k.a. malware), and adware, (ad-based tracking). You can help the cause by avoiding opening any e-mails from unknown parties, clicking on any unfamiliar links, or downloading anything when prompted online – the Internet is just not that helpful. Trust me.
- Browse Smart. There are so many more Internet browsing options out there now. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer… If you like to save Favorite sites into your browser, consider one like Chrome. Once you save a Favorite, a.k.a. bookmark, you can access it from Chrome on any computer, as long as you’ve logged in with your Google account.
But the bottom line, is no matter what you’re doing, remember to back up someplace other than your computer. Whether it’s Dropbox, another computer, an external hard drive, or flash drive, or someplace else, don’t let your computer be the only place you save your stuff. Work smart think smart. And your data will remain safe.
Have questions on anything tech oriented? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.