Tag Archives: computer

Waving a workhorse goodbye

Phil: Last week I said goodbye to a faithful companion. After years of service, it was time to upgrade my computer.

I’ve been putting this off for a long while. The old one worked OK and apart from a hard drive crash, did all I asked of it. I’m not exactly a demanding user, some wordy processing, photo editing and web browsing were all required. The operating system might have dated to the early part of this century, but at least it wasn’t the applaing, unusable Windows 8.

The silicon sands of computer time moved on of course. Gradually I found web browsers weren’t available and when even Firefox said they wouldn’t support Windows Vista any more, then I knew the game was up. To be honest, the camera card reading ports on the front were playing up too and for the work I do, this is serious.

A final nudge was a chunk of cash from work over Christmas arriving in my bank account. Off I strolled to the local computer shop I went to discuss some options. Mostly those that involved them, not me, transferring data between the two machines. Another barrier to upgrades was the anticipated “joy” of moving files and tidying up afterwards. Two days frustrating work normally.

Anyway, the day dawned and I dropped my old computer in. Our arrangement was that they would move the e-mail over (£10 well spent) and install the old hard drive in the new box in addition to a couple of others. On the experts advice, I have all my software on an SSD drive for whizzo performance and all the data on a conventional drive for easy backup. One of the benefits of using a trusted local store is that someone brighter than a sofa can advise me.

Leaving the old box behind, I couldn’t help feeling sorry. On this computer I have types millions of words. One and half novels, hundred of magazine articles and thousands of blog posts. There is no more important a tool available to me. Without it, I’m lost, unemployable and broke. With it, I can access the world and communicate. That old PC has served me well for years, day in, day out, and now it will be stripped for parts and recycled.

Yes, I know it’s only a machine. I just get a bit sentimental that’s all.

Now I have a new black box on the desk. It runs Windows 10, which I don’t hate but it’s not as good as Windows 3.11. The front ports work, boot-up doesn’t take 5 minutes and the desktop shows slides from past holidays. At the moment my life is like moving into a new house. I know everything is there, I just can’t always put my hand on the file I want straight away. Organisation is taking place and eventually things will be where I want them. Eventually old box will be forgotten.

For the moment though, thank you old friend.

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What’s your most precious possession? It’s probably not what you think.

Ded DrivePhil: Last week the hard drive in my computer died. The process was pretty quick – one day it was slow and one or two programs started to misbehave. I tried to run a disk check and this failed half way through. Then every time I booted up the machine, there was an ominous black and white screen with suggestions I should run a consistency check, and when I did this, it failed as well.

Recognising all was far from well, I took the computer to a local shop who fix things. They diagnosed the problem and after a couple of days, I had the machine back with new drive.

Fortunately, I’ve prepared for this. Regular backups on to a separate drive that lives in some storage I rent would hopefully ensure I didn’t lose much valuable data. The restore process didn’t work as well as it should have but I have now got most of the files back.

Data is such a bland word though. What we are talking about is photographs – memories. Places I’ve been, people and pets I’ve seen. Things I’ve made. Irreplaceable images. There’s also several million words. Some of these have been published so I have hard copy, but others exist only on the spinning platter on the disk.

At least The Book is safe. There’s some early stuff on the drive but everything that matters lives on a shared on-line folder and of course, on Candice’s computer.

All of this is precious. Possibly the most important storage I, or anyone else with a computer owns.

Every so often, you hear of someone having their mobile phone stolen and they are more worried about the lost photos, often of relatives no longer alive, than the value of the handset.

So, back everything up. Don’t do it one day, do it now. If that means spending a few quid on a backup drive, do it. You’ll not be sorry. Don’t keep this drive next to the computer either. A burglary or fire could wipe out both. A friend of mine keeps his in his desk drawer, taking it home for occasional updates and then returning it in the morning.

As for your phone – I have that covered. Using Dropbox (for free) and their (free) app, I have mine set to upload new photos every time it sniffs WiFi. I can then access the images from my PC or just browse through them, safe in the knowledge they should always be around and can be transferred to a new handset if I want to.

It’s a precious thing, that whirling drive in the computer. Look after it, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll miss it when it’s gone.


Filed under Phil, Writing