Monday 19 November 2012

Annoying hard drive failure

I'm definitely having one of those days!

Yesterday I made a somewhat foolish decision to have what some people call "a day off" (it does not happen often!) I took my wife and kids to a place called Dunoon on the Cowal peninsula, not far from Largs via a short hop on a ferry, but bizarrely somewhere we had never visited before, despite being so close. Upon my return I rebooted my computer to check my emails, had a game of Freecell as it all loaded up - and then suddenly it just switched off. On trying to reboot the PC it kept switching off, ending up in some bizarre loop of constant rebooting. I tried a few wee tricks - safe mode, start up disk etc - and still could not get it to start. I took it to the computer shop this morning, and the prognosis is that the hard drive has suffered a catastrophic failure. Bummer.

This time around I have been much better prepared than the last PC failure I suffered, about three years ago. Only three weeks ago I thankfully backed up all my files again onto my external hard drive (bought after the last disaster!), including ten years worth of genealogy research files, various books, articles and more. What I did not back up though were my last few months emails, though thankfully for a while I have been printing off crucial emails, payment notification etc.

Several other things have become handy also - I've been using Google's online calendar instead of one locally on the PC, and have various other files backed up on laptops, iPads and all sorts. The only real disaster was in having to rewrite an article for Your Family Tree that I had spent all of Saturday doing - thankfully on a topic I know like the back of my hand, so easily able to be reproduced today!

So the morals of this story are:

1) Back up your files regularly. (Honestly, don't leave it!)

2) Be wary of the Cowal Peninsula - it may be jinxed. :)

I've transferred all my ops just now to the Battle Bridge (my laptop), and should hopefully be back up and running properly by Wednesday or so. Thankfully a bit of preparation after the last disaster has paid dividends for this one. Not a great lesson one wants to be taught though!


New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)


  1. My computer(s) have always been cobbled together from bits handed down because of my interesting budget, with the occasional purchased new piece (power supply one year, new motherboard another year, new video card...), so backing up is absolutely essential for me. Cloud storage, external backup storage, some things on DVDs. Interesting how dependent we are on our computers, eh? Good reminder for everyone to backup absolutely regularly. Thanks for the post, Chris.

  2. I think my own situation is not a million miles off!

  3. About once a month I export a GEDCOM file from my genealogy software, and then send myself an email to my Yahoo account with the file as an attachment. That way I can get it back if I have a computer crash. I have just backed up all my documents to an external hard drive following your advice, Chris. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Aww, sorry to hear about your computer troubles! This happened to me a few months back on my work laptop - did you get a "blue screen of death" that flashed up for a few milliseconds before it rebooted? That's what happened to mine - but the IT department managed to restore all my files so thankfully I didn't lose anything. No idea what they did to fix it though - unfortunately I'm not computer literate enough for that!

    1. Yup, definite case of blue screen of death. Looks like the actually hard drive itself is corrupted though, I had hoped it would just be the start up routine which could be easily replaced. Now that I am down to one external hard drive, am currently backing everything up again to Dropbox until I get another external drive and PC with new hard drive installed. You can never be too careful!