If you follow me on facebook then you might remember on Dec 31 when I turned on my laptop and saw the message, “no bootable device.” This is usually not a good sign, it means your computer can not read your hard drive. The cause could be corrupted boot files or it could mean a hardware failure. My first reaction, as with any computer issue is to
scream for call my personal help desk IT guy with whom I just happen to live. My hubby got out his bag of IT tricks and tried a few things.
First he inserted a bootable CD with Linux to determine if it was just a corrupted boot file. When that did not work he confirmed it was a hard drive failure. The next step was to remove the hard drive, not always easy to do on a laptop, but my HP had a nice little access point. Once the hard drive was removed he put it in the freezer for a few hours. The thought behind this procedure is that sometimes there are bad solder joints on the circuit board and if that was causing the failure, this could cool it down and make a connection again so you can at least salvage the data. This did not work either
At this point he told me a brain transplant was in order, in other words I needed a new hard drive. That is easy enough, a quick order on amazon and the hard drive is here in two days. (love Amazon Prime!) At $65 that is much cheaper than a new laptop. However, the most critical item in this whole event was getting my data back; all my pictures, my Word and Excel documents,and my Quickbooks data. This is where I have to say that this little box and my hubby saved my virtual life.
Dave uses Western Digitals My Book Live, a 2 TB personal cloud storage devise to back up our home network (This is not a paid advertisement by the way, just a thankful user!). This device connects via the network router and is configurable over a web page. You can choose to back up specific files or by category and you can either specify continuous or scheduled back-ups. They even have a free mobile app that allows you to download your photos directly to your personal cloud using your smartphone.
Before we get ahead of ourselves though, the data is not useful if you do not have the applications to use it. Here were the steps we took to load the software applications and the data on the new drive.
1. The first thing is to get the operating system back on the hard drive. In my case that was Windows 7. Dave tells me that some pc manufacturers are now putting a recovery partition on your hard drive and letting you copy it one time to a recovery disk for future uses such as this, but of course you have to make that copy before your hard drive lose’s its mind. Since we did not do this on my laptop, we were able to order recovery disks from HP for $15 and restore the operating system.
2. The next step was to get Office 2007 installed. My favorite IT guy always keeps the original install disks, including the license key and was able to get Office onto the new hard drive with no issues. The license key is critical here. It is that really long series of numbers and letters that is included in your original software. Much of the time it is printed or tagged on the software box or disks. Without the key you can not install the software the first time or any time after.
3. Re-installing Photoshop was easy because I still had the box it came in and the key was printed on the box.
4. Re-installing Quickbooks was a little tricker because it is an OLD version that I bought when I was doing accounting for clients. Back then I could justify the $500+ price tag but since I am only using it for our personal finances now I have not updated to a newer version. I did not have the original box that the software came in and since I was the one who originally installed it, unlike my eagle scout husband, I did not save the license key information. After a few panic filled moments, the hubby suggested I log into Intuit (the maker of Quickbooks) where I had an account. I had not been in there in ages so remembering my password was a miracle, but once I was in, they knew me. Since I had originally registered the software I was able to obtain the license key that allowed us to reinstall it. BIG SIGH OF RELIEF!!
5. Finally we were able to restore the data from the Western Digital device. This is as simple as accessing the Smartware software that comes with the device and clicking on restore. Not one picture, one document or one financial transaction was lost in the process.
Now that life is back to normal, I will do like any good systems analyst worth their weight in documentation does, and that is to reflect on the event and share lessons learned.