Technology is great when it works

One day this month my computer notified me of updates, critical updates, that had to be installed.  The updates were for a variety of programs, operating system, and graphics card.  Following the advice that computers should be kept up to date to keep it secure I clicked “yes” each time it wanted to update.  Yep, I clicked the button.

Things were going good; at first. Then things started to slow down.  Then the blue screen of death happened.  I have noticed that the new operating systems just freeze the screen and nothing works, so it took some investigation to figure out it was in fact the blue screen of death.

I made sure that my system was backed up onto my external hard drive that has its own program to make sure it is all synced up.  Or so I thought.  More on that later.

Then I went to work to diagnose the problem.  System scans, diagnostics, de-fragmenting, virus scans, etc., all came back with a clean bill of health.  I took off the case and blew out all the dust.  I checked for any accumulation of dust and found none.

At this point I knew by the time this was all over I would have another gray strand of hair that would be impervious to hair color just like the rest.  What was left?  What choice did I have when the computer would work for ten minutes and freeze.  Continually hard booting a computer is bad for hard drives.  I did not want to have to go through replacing a hard drive.

With a deep sigh I got out the restoration CD’s I created when the computer was brand new.  Then after making sure that the backup hard drive said it was completely backed up I inserted the first disc into the CD drive.

When I bought the computer it came with Microsoft Vista Home Edition.  I bought it right before the release of Windows 7 so I had the free upgrade discs.  I sat through the 200 system updates for Vista.  Then did the system upgrade to Windows 7 and sat through another 200 system updates.  After installing Microsoft Office I sat through all those updates.  When they happen all at once it becomes apparent just how many updates there are and how long they take to install.  Its not just the updates its all the restarts in between.  For example:  install three updates; restart computer.  Install two more, restart computer.  Install 30 restart computer.

I then went to the backup hard drive.  The back up drive software will track changes to a file folder and the files.  It also will keep copies of items deleted on the drive so they can be restored to the computer.  This is all done automatically.  I plugged it in and thought, “okay it should all be there.”  The software did not “automatically restore files” to my system.  Which apparently was the entire purpose behind plug it into your computer and let the software do its job.  Thereby negating the necessity to manually copy files over.

I take a lot of pictures.  At a recent family get together I took 204, most candid shots.  Throughout the years I have gotten some gems, and some that relatives have promised won‘t get me invited to any more family gatherings if I bring the camera.  The side profiles, or the finger slightly extended at the wrong possible moment. I take those pictures and I save them.  So my pictures were a top priority for me to make sure they were backed up.  The software I use to move them from the SD card to the computer is set to move it into folders based on date.  The hard drive back up software then copies it to the back up drive with that date and all the pictures inside.  I then later will change the name of the folder on my computer to have the date and something descriptive.  For example:  1/12/2012 Snow outside.

So when I went to the back up hard drive and got access to the pictures I was thrilled.  It was confusing though why on the back up hard drive it showed the folders with just a date were deleted and had the folders with date and name there.  Only the folders with the date and name were empty.  The folders it showed as being deleted contained the pictures.

I found the help menu.  I was not able to find any reason behind how it determined I deleted files I did not delete.  However tucked way down in a file I found a notation that basically said:

Files that were deleted from the computer will be available for a limited time on the back up hard drive.  After that time they will automatically be deleted.  This is part of its normal operation.

What did it determine to be deleted files?

  • Files that were legitimately deleted
  • Files that were moved from one file folder to another
  • Files that had the names changed
  • Folders that had the names changed and the contents of that folder

This would all be a bit more tolerable if the system was not temperamental.  I understand that it is all operating through a USB cable and by nature that makes it slow.  But this is excruciatingly slow.  If I double click it freezes the folder and closes it.  If I try to copy a folder over that it determines to be large it then freezes.  Sometimes it will freeze on calculating the time to move the folder.

It took two days but I was able to get the pictures all moved over to the computer.  I’m going to use what blank DVD’s I have to back them up that way.  I’m still working on getting the other stuff moved over and figuring out what was “auto-deleted”.

The lesson for everyone else:  Check your back up hard drives, don’t just assume that they are working the way they claim or are supposed to.  In fact don’t assume they work the way any normal operating system does when it comes to renaming or moving a file.  Check the drive, test the drive, and invest in blank DVD’s and copy the files over that are really important!

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