My Computer’s Near Death Experience

– Part 2 –

If you missed the first part of this series, you can read it at this link:

My Computer’s Near Death Experience – Part 1

NOTE – Crashplan is reported to be discontinuing support for individuals and is focusing on corporate customers. – updated 11/26/2017

I packed my ailing Mac into the car and off to the Apple Store we went. I had called Apple’s corporate support team and tried to get them to help me arrange support. They interfaced with one of the local Apple stores in Scottsdale, AZ to determine that if I could get there within forty minutes, there was a chance they could look at my computer. There was no guarantee as they were booked with appointments, but there weren’t too many walk-ins so I might have some luck.

A half hour later I was at the Apple Store. Oh, no, my Mac was too old! Apple no longer supported repair for my five-year-old iMac. It was legacy and it wasn’t worthy! The Apple employee offered an alternative authorized repair shop that wasn’t too far away. It was rush hour which is quite an experience in this area of Scottsdale/Phoenix, but I was on a mission.

I was headed to MACMEDIA, INC., 6928 E 5th Ave #1, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Another forty minutes and I was carrying the seat of all my creative endeavors in to the repair shop. The staff was busy with other customers, but made me feel welcome and relaxed. I walked around the store and then settled in to listen to the conversations going on around me. I could tell by the manner in which the staff was interacting with the other customers and by the conversation that I was, indeed, at the proper place for what was ailing my computer.

Sure enough within a half hour or so, they confirmed my suspicion that the computer could not be immediately recovered and that the fix was not going to be quick. There was a $95 Diagnostic fee which would be applied to any repair if I decided to proceed.; and I did.

I received a call later that afternoon indicating that indeed it was my hard drive. The options, I was told were that they could replace my 1 TB drive with another for a total of $270 +/- OR…I could get a 2TB hard drive for just thirty dollars more. With the 2TB model would come an upgrade to the very latest system software as well. I had to think hard about that wrinkle, but decided to go ahead with it as they recommended. BTW, not all my legacy apps are running perfectly with the new system, but good enough!

The machine was ready for pickup the next day. The hard drive had a three year warranty and the labor was covered for thirty days. I thought the 30 days was a bit on the short side, but it is within industry standards.

Now came the dicey part. I was hesitant to even try this, but I had to get my Firefox (web browser) up and running and then I needed to try to restore the file with all of my passwords. I was hoping that Crashplan’s (CP) local backup had copied it and I was strongly hoping that it could be restored. Remember that I did try to restore a couple of files and had success so I was optimistic.

I plugged in the CP local backup drive, used the CP software to locate the file I needed and selected RESTORE. A few minutes later, Voila! The file was restored. The keys to the kingdom were back in my pocket and I was on my way.

I now had access to all my passwords and my main email accounts. Once again, I relied on CP’s staff to help me answer a few questions about restoring my files. Understand, this was not a clone of my computer. I just had my files in organized folders which I then had to copy on to the new hard drive. While I would rather not have had this experience, I used it to eliminate some of the detritus that lives on any computer that is more than a year old. I deleted some very old outdated files.

The first restoration I made was of my documents folder. After a while I could tell that most of the files were recovered. There were a few I couldn’t locate immediately, but later were found via a system level search for file name and properties. Sadly, there were a few folders and files that didn’t make it to the complete backup and are now gone, but these were not essential and can certainly be recreated or replaced anew.

The first major test was to restore my music files. That took quite a while. I let my computer run overnight and I was pleased the next day to see that all of my music was there!

To read Part 1 of this series, follow this link: My Computer’s Near Death Experience – Part 1




All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017

My Computer’s Near Death Experience

– Part 1 –

NOTE – Crashplan is reported to be discontinuing support for individuals and is focusing on corporate customers. – updated 11/26/2017

Followers of JBRish might have seen a posting a couple of months ago that my computer was out of service and postings were temporarily halted. Having a computer crash is never fun; not even for the most casual or the most experience technology user for that matter. For someone like me who relies on the computer for his blog, photography and other creative needs, it is an extreme situation; a nuisance of great magnitude.

Unfortunately, there were circumstances that happened in the recent past that made this potentially even more devastating. I use an iMac. It is a five year old plus machine. To refer to it as a legacy machine is being kind. A month prior to my computer incident, I inadvertently plugged my 3TB Time Machine backup drive into my wife’s PC and for some reason my iMac would no longer read from it.

I tried every Mac utility I had on the machine with no luck. My wife’s PC would not recognize it either. I tried and tried over a period of days to get it to work, but no dice! I then tried to reformat it on the Mac…dead end there too. It wouldn’t even reformat on the PC. The drive was dead. The drive too may have been a bit old, but I cannot explain why it would no longer work based on the actions taken.

I recently read that external 3TB drives, for one reason or another, were more prone to malfunctioning. The article didn’t seem to pin down the exact culprit, but reported the devastating statistics. You can read more about 3TB drives here (Full disclosure – I did not read these specific articles.)

I never did get around to replacing that malfunctioning drive. My most precious files (see bird picture above) are my more than ten thousand photographs and my large music collection. Other than that, any loss of my other documents would not be devastating It would definitely be a problem and a great nuisance, but not devastating. I had two older backups of both my music and my photographs. The music was current, but the photo backups were three months old and I would lose my most current edits if I could not restore my most recent Lightroom files. Not tragic, but certainly not good either.

Realizing I was riding a potential disaster roller coaster, I decided to follow the trend to backup to the cloud using Crashplan. Crashplan (CP) and other cloud companies offer software to use to make a backup of your computer to a local drive as well.

Why did I choose Crashplan? – The Best Online Cloud Backup Service

As it turned out, this was a life saving move. All right, not life saving, but definitely a time and file saver.

Let me digress and say a few words about Crashplan. The reason I chose Crashplan was because they offered a thirty day free trial and, this is important, software to backup document, photograph and music files to a local drive. I configured my computer to do both. I began to backup to CPs cloud service and to a local hard drive I had connected to the iMac. This would not be a clone, just a safeguard against data loss.

During the configuration process, and to test the validity of the back up, I restored several files along the way to see if it worked. I needed to call CP’s support several times. Each time, I was given prompt support. There were a few delays perhaps because I was not as clear as I could have been. Nevertheless, all my issues were resolved and my backups seemed to be working.

This was a learning experience. I had never backed up a large number of files to any cloud service. The closest I had come was using Dropbox to store a series of photographs for family and friends to view. I was quite surprised almost bordering on shock that the estimated time to backup my 1 TB internal hard drive to the cloud was estimated to take between 45-60 days. I understand I have some large files and I am sure CP uses some algorithm to check for errors which slows down this process, but I had no idea of the amount of time it would take to place my data in the cloud.

NOTE – I also have a DSL line which, by nature, is slower than most cable companies and this almost assuredly increased the amount of backup time needed.

I decided to let the cloud option lapse when the trial period expired because I wasn’t sure this was the most efficient service for my needs and I still had days to go. To CPs credit, they continue to allow users to backup to their local drive via their software whether or not they are cloud-paying customers and I continued to take advantage of that option. This too was slow, but not as slow as backing up to the cloud.

Within a short time period, my computer completely failed. I knew it was the hard drive. After my heart returned to its normal rhythm, I began to think of my options. I did have two older hard drives with outdated backups of my most precious files, but there were a lot of documents I would miss. One example is an extensive checklist I have created for long hiking trips which reminds me of all the little things I need to take with me on my hiking vacations such as head lamps, hotel night light, bandages, instant coffee, etc. I even have a version for a short get-away trip. Yeah, that would be annoying to lose.

My most important document is a “coded” text tile with all my logons and passwords. They can be recreated, but what a mess that would be. I have several email accounts and my blog to keep up with almost immediately. Oh well!




All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017