So all you laptop people who stuck around even though that last post really didn’t apply to you, well now is when I will speak to you as well. In my previous post I ended up calling the procedure we performed an “emergency backup”. Just as with all things in life we should really try and avoid these emergencies, and “It is always good to be prepared for an emergency.” That said; here are some simple things we can do to stay ahead of the game, and be prepared for that dreaded day we hope never comes.

I am going to start from right out of the box, fresh install. Personally I like to keep a record of all the things I install, at least when I just start out. Use notepad and make a text file right on the desktop. Doing this when installing new programs allows us to see what changes were made at the time of the issue. Once we know what might have caused a problem to occur we can uninstall that program or otherwise address the issue. It is also important to install things carefully, and in a smart order. Decide what programs you like, write them down on paper or in a text file. Once you have created a list, put the items into order. My list usually includes; utilities, (such as virus scanners, spyware/adware scanners, and other tools like this) internet tools, (browsers, Instant messaging programs) handy windows tools (sticky notes, hot corners, etc.) Office programs, Overlookables, (winzip, flash, java) & any other programs you feel are really important.

The most important item you will install, I left off the list, because it is last on the list. This is a program so important that it gets its own paragraph. You NEED to have a backup (ghosting) program. There a ton out there and I won’t endorse any particular one. Search for one you like and make a backup after you get your list of programs that you like in your work space installed. Keep your install log on your desktop and include it in your backup. Make you back up to DVD(s) It shouldn’t be any more then 4 discs which isn’t bad because 4$ will save a lot of headaches. After you have created these discs, you have created your own “personal restore discs.” They will bring your computer back to what you would want it to be like out of the box. You will save your self a lot of space if you backup your data early, and try and keep your “my documents” folder as small as possible until after this back up.

Once your backup is done go ahead and fill up your “my documents” folder. Do what you want with installing other programs. Now is also a good time to set up automatic backups or schedule a time to make a back up of you system for the future. You know how often you use your computer, so you know how frequent to make these back ups. Generally you will only be referring to the “personal restore discs” if you need to recover from a situation like I mentioned above.

Now, since you have that handy external hard drive I mentioned in my last post, think about using it for a place to store you back ups. Your back up program can write to this drive. I also like to make a weekly back up of “my documents” to this drive as well. Some back up programs allow you to navigate through a backup file and pick out files. Mine does, but I like to make a back up of this myself, for a couple reasons. One, I don’t trust the back up, and two, I like having all of my documents available at work or on any other computer.

So that’s it. I hope that these two posts have helped you prepare for a situation that could be really really bad. It is great to be prepared for this, because it gives you more freedom to experiment with your computer, knowing that you have something to fall back on

Imagine this, you turn on your computer and let it start booting.It’s going through its standard boot order finding all of its components and reading the startup information off the hard drives.All of a sudden you hear a beep, and the process starts over from the beginning.You’re stuck outside your operating system.All of your precious documents and settings are still inside the operating system, and you can’t get in, (that’s if they also haven’t been destroyed.) So what could we have done to make this situation hurt less?

This is the exact situation I found myself in after trying to make a simple upgrade.Suddenly I found myself replacing the motherboard.I wont get into the specifics, as they are available a few posts back.But long story short, with my new hardware, suddenly my computer realized it had a boot sector virus.

Today I am going to tell you a few things that can help you survive when this does happen, and more importantly in part two of this post I am going to tell you what measures you can take to protect yourself.

[Before I get too deep into explaining this I should point out that I am speaking in terms of desktops here, this project gets a lot harder if doing all of this using laptops, it it definitely voids any warranty. So do any of this at your own risk.]

Luckily we live today in a world of portable storage.Pretty much everyone has one of those little thumb drives (jump drives etc.)They are a great way to move files quickly and easily between locations.What I would recommend for this project however is to go out and get an external hard drive at least 40 gigabits, but you know what size to get, it should be at least the size of all the documents on your computer.These are available at most electronics retailers; I recently got one at BestBuy.Over the next few days of recovering your files this is going to be your vessel that you hold them in.The main reason that we have so much portable storage brings me to my next point.We also live in a world where a lot of households have more then one computer.You’re going to need to use one of these other computers as well.

Once you have all of these parts together you can start recovering your data.Take your hard drive and put it into the working machine (computer 2) Make sure you make the necessary changes to the hard drive so the computer 2 will recognize the new drive as a slave and not the master.Once this drive is in computer 2, boot up computer 2.Once the computer is done booting you can attach the external hard drive.Once computer 2 sees both of these new drives your are ready to begin.

If you go into “my computer” you will see all of the computers drives listed there.Open you computer’s (computer 1’s) original drive and drag that window to one side of the screen.Next open my computer again, but this time open the external hard drive, and drag that window to the other side of the screen

Now you can start to copy the files right from your hard drive to the external hard drive until your original hard drive is ready to work again.Be selective. Now is probably a good time start weeding out some of the junk you will not need.A good place to start with this process is the “documents and settings folder” this will probably have most of your documents inside it.Often time files you want to keep do end up elsewhere on your hard drive (i.e. file sharing directories.)These are usually somewhere else on the drive usually right of the base level “C:whatever”.Remember that your drive is no longer C: though, as long as your drive is in computer 2 is will be something else, this could be any other letter.

Once your files have been copied, you can take a breath.You have just performed an emergency backup.You are now free to make any changes to your computer that you need to make.

In my next post I will explain how we could have been better prepared for this situation.

Well I had a big headache with the final mile of the computer restoration project. Specifically the program I use to encode the video you see on this website. It is up and running now, and ther eis a new program posted. Check out “SWAT” in the work section. It’s a piece I shot last month about the special weapons and tactics training program, held throughout the metro Boston area.

I do still have 3 programs to install before I am totally done with my big project, but it should all be smooth sailing from here. Count on my promised post regarding protecting yourself from that computer catastrophe by the end of this week.

Well all of my hardware seems to be working and my software is slowly coming back on as well. I know people probably don’t really care, about my giant computer project, but I wanted to make a post explaining why there have been no updates. Over the next few days I should be getting the necessary software back onto my machine to release another video.

As promised, I do plan to make a post explaining some of the things I have learned during this project. We all keep so much information on our computers and we keep our computers organized in the way we like. When (not if) your computer goes down you are rarely prepared for it. In my next post I will share some of the precautions you can take to be prepared and avoid losing your priceless data.