Where’s the beef by John Skinner

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By John Skinner

So there I was quietly browsing in the meat department of my local supermarket when a voice said to me.  “Oh Boy I should have accepted your lift home from the club the other night.  The boys kept me there until very late.”  As I commiserated with Steve, the butcher, he suddenly asked.” You know something about computers.  How can I get my photographs off my dead laptop?” “Use your backup” was my reply.  “I don’t have one.”  He said mournfully.

The end result of the conversation was that I took his laptop home with me and recovered the photographs and some important documents.  It took me less than an hour.  So how did I do this?  Like any job, it is a lot easier if you have the right tools.

Before I tell you how I did it, I must first caution you that I seem have been taking computers to pieces since the before the Apple computer was a just a seed.  This gives me the confidence to do it now.

Secondly contrary to what a lot of computer people seem to do, I READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FIRST.

If you want to take your computer to pieces ensure you have the right tools.  Then just Google your computer or laptop brand and model of interest and a number of manuals and forums will appear.  If you are really lucky you will also find a link to a YouTube video which will show you what to do as well as explain it.

What I write here is to tell you what I do or have done.  Each computer is different, so it is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with the instructions and guidance of the manufacturer.

So having read the manual on line, and opened the case and unscrewed the correct screws, I then gently removed the hard drive from the laptop.  I had an external case which held one of my old hard drives.  I removed my hard drive from that case and connected Steve’s hard drive to the case.  Then it was a simple matter of connecting Steve’s hard drive to my computer and to copy across the photographs and important documents that Steve wanted saved.

When I returned the computer to Steve for him to dispose of, my recommendation to him was to buy a case for the hard drive and use it in the future to back up his files.   This is a much cheaper than buying a new Passport or similar external hard drive when dealing with smaller capacity external hard drives.

I never put my documents, photos and entertainment files on my computers internal hard drive.  That hard drive I use only for the Operating System and the programs.  I use external hard drives to hold my documents, photos and entertainment files.  For each external hard drive I have a second which has a higher capacity.  The higher capacity hard drive is used to back up the smaller hard drive.  Original files are moved around, updated and otherwise changed.    There may be several versions on the back up hard drives, which is why it has the higher capacity. I will copy and paste from the original hard drive to the backup hard drive several times a week.

Why use external drives?  The reasons are simple.  I don’t like using the Cloud because that needs an internet connection to access my data.  When there is a power failure or I have a main computer failure, I do not lose access to my data.  All the external hard drives feed through a USB hub so if I need to, it is a simple matter to disconnect them from my PC and connect the hard drives to my laptop.

There is also the matter of when I travel or a hurricane threatens, I take the backup hard drives and put them each in a Ziplock Slider bag.  I find Ziplock Slider bags ideal for carrying computer bits and their associated wires.  The bags keep the bits and their wires together, reduce tangles and add a measure of waterproof protection. (My laptop bag holds quite a number for my laptop peripherals.)

Once the backups are bagged up I take them to a protected site.  That way if there is a serious problem at home, although I may lose my original files, the backup hard drives should survive.  Programs are easy to replace.  Photographs and documents of sentimental value are not.

By John Skinner

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