Crashing on Purpose
I decided to crash my computer on purpose! The question is: “Why am I so dumb?” Am I a masochist? No, not really, I do not enjoy pain. I've been having many small problems lately. The biggest and the most frustrating problem was sound. No sound. Sound was working a few weeks ago. Then suddenly it stopped, actually it just became the buzz of a drone. Not the military drones that are in the news but the drones of the bumblebees, aka the male bumblebees. I tried everything to fix it...
So it's time to reformat the hard drive and reinstall everything. The question is “How to do it and survive?”
- Backup: Do you have an actual backup? In my case, we are talking 3 terabytes or 3000 gigabytes. That's all of my data. This is data. It doesn't include any program... It only took me 3 hours to backup the data. Why? Because I already had full data backups and I only had to update the files that had changed.
- Actually, this is not a backup. There is no backup software involved, no compression... It's just a straight copy, so there will be nothing to reinstall on the new hard drive before starting the restore.
- I have a minimum of 6 rotating backups of all the important stuff.
- I have 2 copies of all of my data and that includes all the photos.
- Software: What about the CDs/DVDs or the various files for the programs downloaded from the Internet? I have almost all of them. I had to dig deep in some drawers to find some of my CDs and I had to look back at old backup to find some of the programs downloaded. I went back to the Internet to find some updates.
- Serials: The vast majority of the softwares need some kind of serial number. With some software, you just enter the serial number and you are done. With some other software, you need to register through the Internet and you can do it only once. Microsoft is like that but limited to twice. I had to phone them, after a few minutes they gave me new serials. There is still one company, that shall remain unnamed at this point, that is supposed to call me back with my registration.
- Configurations: The configurations files are just as important as the serial numbers. It takes hours to reconfigure all the various softwares. The files are either .ini files for some old software, most of the configurations in the Microsoft world are stored in the Registry. So I started to save the entries by software so that my configurations, looks and defaults, are saved. It took me just as much time to do my Backup as to save the configs.
At this point I wrote down all the various software that I use. I checked them going through the menus and icons. Is this it? Ready? Fire. I inserted my DVD and rebooted.
- 40 minutes later, it was time to start with the security updates through the Internet. Between the downloads, the installs and zapping on the TV, it took another hour.
- Copying back all of my data took another 11½ hours! I launched at 10pm and it was finished by 9:30am the next morning. Actually, I could have made it to be much faster by not restoring all of the data in one go and by splitting the data into sections. I didn't need to restore all of my photos today. I could have done that as another overnight job…
- Another 3 hours for the various reinstalls and the configurations.
I'm back in business. it took me around 24 hours to recover. It includes searching for the CDs/DVDs, the serial numbers, the registrations…
If you “really” crash. Can you recover? Can you survive it? Many companies have not and gone a very slow death. A backup is not enough, it's lot more than that.
To see how other pros prepare for “disaster recovery” search the Internet for “bare metal recovery”. This means recover when everything was stolen, burned down or drowned and you buy a brand new computer system.
This was my way and it worked.