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!




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©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017

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