Avoid a Hard Drive Disaster

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We are having a spectacular thunderstorm as I write this.   A flash of lighting, followed by a loud thunderclap…  Then the lights flickered, I heard a loud ZAP! and my computer turned off.  My heart raced in a panic, as I envisioned my hard drive getting fried from the huge power surge that just happened.  I have a surge protector but somehow it failed me.  A few more angry beeps came out of my CPU.  I restarted my computer and the dreaded black screen came up for a few seconds.  Then, an error message that the CPU was overheated.  I did what I usually do in this situation:  I ran over to Apt Prepper Husband for help.   He unscrewed the tower cover to let it cool, restarted everything and got it to work.  Whew!

I was lucky this time, but what if my hard drive truly crashed?  I had not backed up my data in a while.  I have previous years’ photos backed up on CDs, but my newer photos and files (such as blog articles) have not been backed up in several months.  I need to start backing up my computer and soon!  Losing important files and information is a mini disaster in itself.

flash driveI actually purchased a 16 GB USB flash drive for this very purpose, but have not had time to do my backups.  I have important documents in a safe place (See The Grab and Go Binder https://wp.me/p1dmhM-2u)   Now I will make time to back up files in my computer, also with important documents and store them in the flash drive.  The flash drive will go in the fire proof safe.

Backing up important documents is not very exciting but is an essential step in preparedness.  Take time to back up your data now.

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  1. I do backups religiously. I have all my family photos, all my financial information, everything on my computer. I back up to a flash drive, in my case I just copy “my documents” and some special program data files to the flash drive and that’s it.

    Not to backup on a regular basis is madness.

    1. I beat up computers for a living, so this is sort of a specialty for me. 🙂

      The easiest thing you can do is to get a USB hard drive (not a ‘jump drive’ or ‘geek stick’, but an honest-to-goodness USB external hard drive). I use a couple of laptop-sized ones (2.5″) that holds 500GB each of my most important (to me) stuff… and this is on top of the external 1TB RAID kit latched onto the back of my file server, which I back up to with Bacula ( for the geeks among us – it’s a full-blown open-source backup server utility: https://www.bacula.org/en/ )

      For most folks though, a 350-500GB external 2.5″ USB hard drive will be more than plenty, and it’s still plenty portable.

      1. Hey OddQ, thanks for these specific steps. Sounds easy enough, and for important stuff it would be worth doing.

  2. I personally use a mac running time machine to push hourly updates to my 1tb external drive. No worries, it works seamlessly behind the scenes. One thing seems to be constant with most people:

    If it’s not easy and conventient, we won’t do it 100 percent of the time. I recommend making it transparent. What’s your data worth to you? Mine is worth the cost of a mac laptop and an external drive. Besides, your external will be more protected than a computer CPU during a storm. Good luck.


    1. Theroadwarrior: Hourly updates, that’s efficient! Not a bad idea though, since its behind the scenes and takes no additional effort on your part. Thanks!

  3. Bernie, Oh my gosh – it is so important to get that backup done chop chop. You should also try to do a full disk image as well. External hard drives are cheap these days and so you should have two (or more) so that you can keep a backup off site somewhere.

    Sorry to preach but I spent have of my career in the software industry and hard drives can and do go “poof” from time to time!

    — Gaye

    1. You’re right SW there is too much to lose by putting off a chore like this! I’ve got the flash drive done, but will be getting that external hard drive as well.

    2. TBH, they don’t blow up all the time.

      That said, it does pay to have a good backup – say, once a week for most casual users, and once a day for the heavy ones.

  4. I’ve recently learned the need for regular pc file backups not too long ago. Now I’m fairly religion about it. In addition, a small jump drive is always a good idea for bug out bags and certainly makes a great addition to hard copy documents as well. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. There is a good backup program called Cobian Backup, that is free. It super easy to install and takes the “chore” out of doing backups since you can set it to auto backup every day,week,month or whatever you prefer.

  6. Doesn’t look like anyone’s mentioned it yet, but Dropbox is a great additional way to store/backup your important stuff. It’s your own dedicated internet storage.

    Upside-you can access from anywhere, and paperless
    Downside-If there is total power out or internet failure you could be out of luck.

    It’s free for accounts up to a certain size, after that you can purchase additional space. If you feel like checking it out…https://www.dropbox.com/

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