Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Of Mice And Men

We covered a number of best practices for computer users in both their personal and professional lives. Using strong yet easy to remember passwords, turning on the PIN for mobile devices and having constant and current malware detection installed. Last week we talked about the need for regular and reliable means of backing up your critical data.

Once in a while, even the best, most careful and experienced individuals like, say, me, for instance, encounters some difficulty. This week I had a hard drive begin to go south on me. It cost me several hours of grief and lost productivity. It served, however, as a wake up call and inspired me to repeat the warning that you never know when your data will suddenly and inexplicably disappear or why your machine will feel like its not running on all cylinders.

For a couple of days, the machine had been a little more sluggish than usual. Video in Google Plus hangouts would have missing thumbnail video and "Max Headroom" syndrome on the main screen. Then, Windows began telling me is was sensing a problem with a drive (didn't say which one) and that I better contact my system administrator for help. I discovered its possible to chuckle and shudder at the same moment.

Being a long time geek at my core I dove in with both feet and began to troubleshoot using every diagnostic tool at my disposal. Windows has utilities built in that will scan and attempt to repair a faulty drive. These allowed me to determine it was my "D" drive that was exhibiting the problem. This is not the main "C" drive with the operating system but my secondary drive with all of my data. I made the usual progress. At one point in my recovery efforts I couldn't even get the machine to run.

Once past that minor roadblock I gave the hard drive a good scrubbing with MalwareBytes, another utility often used to augment your usual malware detection system. No one antivirus product is going to be 100% effective. Whenever I have errant behavior I use this program to ensure nothing nefarious has managed to slip past my first line of defense.

The Boy Scout motto comes to mind. Perhaps one computer is simply not enough. One might need, as I have, a notebook or tablet computer as a spare. With multiple machines cloud based storage becomes a really good strategy for housing all of your work in process.

Yes, you better be prepared. Want some advice, call or write. Happy to help you now that my computer is working again.

Captain Joe

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