There are so many lessons to take away from my recent experience in netbook hardware failure, it’s hard to know where to begin. A resounding vote for cloud computing and distributed risk? How about, beware of irony and over-praising your gadgets? Or simply when it rains (first the washing machine breaks down, then the car…), it pours. No, here’s the moral of the story I like: when your computer dies on a weekend, it’s good to know the Geek Squad is around for data recovery.
My beloved Asus Eee 1000HA has served me well for eleven months, but last Friday everything changed when a system config error popped up my screen. I couldn’t even boot in safe mode, and every attempt to break away from the error screen resulted in a cycle that landed me right back where I started. Miraculously I had the Windows XP recovery CD and an external CD/DVD drive on hand, but even after I figured out how to re-order the boot sequence, it became clear to me I would lose all of my data if I ran the recovery disk. A call to Asus tech support also confirmed that an F9 reset would wipe my files, and that I would need to get a full back-up before attempting the process. (Tech support would not provide any advice on how I might accomplish such a back-up with no working operating system.)
At this point you may be wondering whether I have ever considered backing up my data on a regular basis to avoid this type of disaster. I have backed up in the past to one of our Western Digital external hard drives, but even with the help of the Clickfree back-up solution I picked up in January at CES (it runs a differential back-up every time you plug it in), I’ve never managed to get into a regular routine. Before last week, it had been several months since I’d run a back-up, and I was panicked at the thought of losing the many files existing solely on my Eee PC.
I had two options once I discovered I’d have to extract the data from my netbook. I could either play amateur IT specialist, trying to boot up the computer with an alternate OS loaded on to a disk, or I could call in the professionals. Given the hours of frustration inherent in the first option, I decided on the second. Most computer places are closed on the weekends, but Best Buy is not. Gene from the Geek Squad quickly determined that he could recover my files booting up from a home-grown OS. (Yes, the Geek Squad has its own OS.) He promised he’d have everything done by Tuesday, but after listening to me whine a bit, he also said he’d call if they finished the $99 process earlier. Roughly five hours later, my data was ready.
The sad part of this story is that a system recovery on my netbook only lasted a day before the machine when kaput again. But my Eee PC is still under warranty, which means it will either get repaired (unlikely) or replaced. For my two weeks without the Eee, I’ve managed to secure a temporary laptop (thanks, Gretchen!), and I have access to all of my files. Once I’m back up and running on my own computer, I have a firm resolution to get serious about data back-ups. But if I should happen to falter in that resolution, it’s good to know the Geek Squad is right around the corner, and available to me every day of the week.
P.S. If being unwilling to continue endlessly attempting to recover data on my own makes me a failed geek, so be it. I’m a very practical person.