I just completed a frustrating 2 week project of recovering files from a crashed computer. I have a backup plan and an external backup drive. But like most people I do not use it often enough. About once a month I attach it to each computer in the house and do a backup. The problem with this plan is that I risk losing a months worth of work and this was painfully reinforced when my laptop crashed a few days after transferring home videos from my Zi6.
I went through the typical attempts to reboot hoping the little laptop would come alive just one more time. I called friends, searched help web sites and Google'd the errors hoping others who experienced the same thing could help. Whatever time I could spare each evening was spent to fix the computer, even just temporarily so I could recover those videos of my son eating for the first time, crawling, smiling and whatever else we thought was cute or funny at the moment.
My searches and conversations presented me with two options. The first option was to pay a pro. Prices started at $250 and went up to $1,500. At first I was hoping the problem wasn't too tuff and so I picked option 2 which led me through a long process that presented new challenges at every corner. It seemed that for every step accomplished another hurdle appeared. First I needed to remove the hard drive. This was not easy on this particular laptop, and needed a special tool. I bought the tool and followed detailed instructions on how to take the laptop apart and remove the hard drive without damaging it further.
This required a complete dismantling of the laptop and patience.
Once I removed the laptop I learned that I needed an adapter that would allow me to connect the drive to another computer. Fortunately I knew someone who had such an adapter as well as some advice and moral support.
Once I connected the drive to my laptop I ran a disk utility that announced my disk was unrepairable.
Some additional searching on the internet revealed others who had experienced the same messages and had been successful using other software tools to repair their disks. So I bought the one that seemed to produce the most success stories and gave it a try. That software was able to repair most of the issues temporarily so that I could at least transfer all but one of the video files to my other computer. Finally, mission accomplished.
I now look back at the cost of the pros and wonder if I picked the best option. The disk utilities cost $100, and I believe the adapter kit was another $60. That combined with the hours of frustration now make the $250 and up price tag seem more like a steal.
But the big lesson learned is to BACK UP! Every minute I saved by not doing regular backups was lost in trying to recover those files. No matter how busy you are, spend some time regularly to back up your important files.
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